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July 27, 2013

28th Birthday

We had a wonderful time celebrating my birthday last week - and perhaps the best part was that I woke up with NO nausea!! WHOO HOO! That was my birthday present from R2 (as my friend Natalie has affectionally named "him").  * No we do not know the gender yet *  
Ryleigh came in the room singing happy birthday in that exceptionally sweet voice of hers and then Steve took me on a lunch date to my favorite restaurant.  
My parents, sisters, & brother in law, went out of their way to make sure I had a fun bday package to open and Ryleigh loved opening them with me!  

How cute is this MS platter?!?!

The team came over for "breakfast for dinner" that night and we had a great time of eating, hanging out, and playing board games.  

It was such a fantastic day!

July 22, 2013

A Season of Goodbyes

At some point in my life I’ve heard that you should never say “goodbye” just always “see you later” – I guess it’s to help you feel better if you act like you know that you’ll see someone again instead of not.   Over the past few years I’ve realized that the truth is we never know if we’ll see someone again – not on this side of heaven – and while I am ever so thankful for the knowledge and hope of eternal life through Christ Jesus, it still is difficult to say goodbye here. 
While no one in my immediate family or circle of friends has passed away recently, this has still been a rather intense season of goodbyes for us.  We said goodbye to our family and friends in MS to return to Madagascar and if you’ve kept up with us through the blog then you know that was a "little" bit difficult for me.  Six weeks after being back, our friend, teammate, and housemate – Tessa – flew back to the States after living and working here for 5 years.  And now, this week, Doug & Nathan (journeymen who have served here for 2 years) will be traveling back to the States to begin a new season in their lives. 
That’s a lot of transition.  The people here that we are saying “goodbye” to are not just teammates.  They are family.  They have lived with us, eaten meals with us, celebrated with us, struggled with us, done ministry with us, and the list could go on and on.  They have thrown themselves into our lives and loved us with the love of Christ.  Between the 3 of them, they have logged countless babysitting hours, numerous long road trips, several holidays, and have really just done everything families do together.  
Living here presents unique opportunities of course, but the one I wasn’t expecting was this love for the other Americans here.  The bond that the Lord has placed between us that allows us to see each other at our worst and hopefully at least occasionally at our best, all the while encouraging one another, laughing with (and sometimes at) each other, and praying one another through.  These are the ones that you don’t have to explain a hard language day (or week) to & they understand that culture shock has no time boundaries and can hit on any day, and at any moment.  They laugh & totally relate when you just can’t think of the English word anymore because the Malagasy one just makes “more sense”.  They have each become a part of our family.
Tessa – you are missed...greatly
Doug & Nathan – I’m trying my best to go ahead and prepare myself J  
know that you will each be missed so very much!
Thankful that the Lord chose to put us all in one another’s path over the past 2 years, I have treasured this season and I look forward to seeing where He takes you over this next one.  I love you all.

July 18, 2013

Guest Blog Today

Guest blogging again today over at MS Women Bloggers, if you have a moment go check out my post over there!

July 12, 2013

Practicality of Thankfulness

(Sometimes) "it's my own face that obscures the face of God.  How can I help this son of mine see when I can't see?  The parent must always self-parent first, self-preach before child-teach, because who can bring peace unless they've held their own peace?  Christ incarnated in the parent is the only hope of  incarnating Christ in the child - yet how do I admit that people made in the Image can make me blind to God? ... How do I have the holy vision in this mess?  How do I see grace, give thanks, find joy in this sin-stinking place?" - Ann Voscamp, pg 124 - A Thousand Gifts -

I do like the practicality of things.  I like to know what I will "do" with information if that makes sense.  First and foremost when I started this book, HIS WORDS stood out to me more than anything...how much we as His children have much to be thankful for and that we SHOULD be thankful.  To come before Him with these praises and thanksgivings...not keep silent about them - that was very, very, very clear.  Secondly, I started wondering just how it would impact my life.  So...I started being intentional about giving thanks - writing down gifts in my journal, speaking them out loud, making sure to have Ryleigh start noticing things with me, etc.

I soon realized that this spirit of thankfulness was in and of it self a gift.  I found myself being much slower to discipline in anger and faster to find the gifts in the situation.  A mess on the floor?  I stopped to be thankful for a curious child who loves to help.  A disrespectful way of saying something?  I stopped to be thankful for a chid whose vocabulary grows daily and uses her mouth often to sing praises to Him.  Now, this doesn't mean that discipline goes out the window and there's still a big difference in a mess (childishness) and being disrespectful (sinfulness).  However, it does give me that brief second I need to remember the difference between the two (childishness & sinfulness) and to remind myself that I want to raise Ryleigh to honor & glorify the Lord - not myself.  It gives me pause to take a deep breath and find life giving words instead of ones that tear down & destroy.

My prayer is that this isn't a "phase" I'm going through because I read some popular book but rather an inward life change because I know the Author of the Book.

"May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord." Psalms 104:34

July 10, 2013

A Life of Thankfulness

Over the past few months, some ladies on our team have been reading through A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp.  Since then, we've decided to each do our own "gifts journal" and it has been such a GIFT in my own life, that I wanted to share some of that with you.  I encourage you to read the book if you haven't - her writing style is quite different but I absolutely love it.  She is real, honest, and doesn't ever say that her book has any answers - rather she points you towards the Giver of every good and perfect gift and His infallible word.  Throughout the book, you take a look at her quest for seeing His beauty each and every day.

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" - Psalms 118:24

One of my favorite parts of the book is when she refers to those things that take our breath away - those magnificent scenes that would make the "10 places you must see before you die" type lists.  To which she begins to wonder..."Isn't it here?  The wonder?  Why do I spend so much of my living hours struggling to see it?  Do we truly stumble so blind that we must be affronted with blinding magnificence for our blurry soul-sight to recognize grandeur?  The very same surging magnificence that cascades over our every day here.  Who has time or eyes to notice?" (pg 31)

"And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy."  Psalms 107:22

Her book then focuses in on the word "eucharisteo" which means "thanksgiving" in the Greek.  The derivative of "chara" meaning "joy" - and so begins her personal quest to find the joy in every day, every moment and her verbal/written expression of thanksgiving to the Lord for these gifts.
Of course it all sounds much more elegant in her book - but I hope you get the gist of it.  So, that has become a part of my day to day - vocalizing out loud my thanks, writing down the gifts of every day in my journal.

"O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!  Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!"
 - Psalms 95:1-2

I just wanted to share with you what a daily transformation (hopefully) coming before His throne with offerings of thanksgiving has made.  Anything that might seem easy to give thanks for - from hot water in the bath, tiny fingers holding mine, true & deep conversation, laughter, facetime, ginger gum (morning sickness anyone?), and helping hands - to everything that Ann calls "finding the ugly beautiful" such as the gift of being able to demonstrate forgiveness after a crayon finds its way to a wall, grace when Ryleigh wants to "do by myself", sickness because that means I know what health is, and the list could go on.

"It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High" Psalms 92:1

My plan is to continue to update you as this list continues - He is already using it in powerful ways in my day to day walk with Him and I know He will continue to...

"Oh, taste and see that he LORD is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" Psalms 34:8

July 8, 2013

2.5 years - Ryleigh Elizabeth

My sweet beautiful girl, it's hard to believe how much you have changed in a year... 

 or even in 6 months...

but you have...
You are growing up so incredibly fast, that it often takes my breath away.  You are currently 30 lbs and 37.5 inches tall.  I love watching you in all of our "daily routines", the way you: run to wash your hands and hear you sing your ABC's as you  are doing so, make sure everyone is holding hands before you say a prayer before we eat, how you have to include every food item on the table in those prayers, restate rules that you have heard 1000s of times before when doing an activity - ex. "no standing in chair - knees or bottom only" "just lips - no biting" (when referring to putting on chapstick) - and the list could go on.
 Most of the time your sweet demeanor is sure to make anyone's bad day better - and on those times when the cliche "terrible twos" make their appearance, you are quick to remember that you need to "hodor (honor) the ord (Lord)" with what you do and say.  Hearing you say "I'm sorry" or "Don't be sad" or "Need to pray" anytime you see someone crying, hurt, or sick is humbling for this sometimes selfish momma of yours.  
Our morning and bedtime routine are still some of my top favorite moments, especially as now you've started "reading" your books back to me and asking me the same questions I ask you about the stories.  Often I am unable to continue singing our songs because your sweet voice singing those adorable melodies has brought me to tears.  Prayers are a must and such a part of who you are that I long for the day when you truly know Him as your Savior - what a beautiful & intimate relationship I pray that you will have with Him.
I love you my sweet girl and I'm so grateful for the love you freely lavish on me...and although you may not fully understand it yet - I'm glad that you say I can be the baby's mommy too!

July 5, 2013

4th of July in Madagascar

Our team does love a good reason to celebrate - and the 4th of July was no exception!  Patriotic themed games, movies, and a wide variety of snack foods - all ending with a delicious Shish Kabob Dinner!  We had a great time and hope you enjoyed celebrating the 4th and all it stands for with your friends and family!

it was a struggle to get those 4 fingers up for "4th of July" 
i do love these ladies!

       all types of yummy food!

clearly our living in a foreign country has hurt our US geography skills...yes, we were all a little embarrassed!!

 Skype is quite a normal thing for all of us...

cute kiddos

Doug won, despite Grant's best efforts - but Ryleigh had the cutest smile!

delicious supper

Happy 4th from the Roberts!!

July 4, 2013

True Freedom

Happy 4th of July everyone!!  

This past week, while thinking about the 4th, the phrase "True Freedom" kept coming up in my heart and in my head.  Of course it turned into a blog, and around the same time I was asked to guest blog over at MS Women Bloggers.  So just click on their link and read today's post over there!  And...if you are a fellow female Mississippian blogger, link up to be included in their community!