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August 31, 2013

Little Mouths, Little Ears

Are you familiar with the song, "O be careful little mouths what you say.  O be careful little mouths what you say.  For the Father up above, is looking down in love...so be careful little mouths what you say"?  There are verses for your eyes being careful, your ears being careful, and so on and so forth.

Well this song has been somewhat on repeat in my heart and mind over the past few months.  Ryleigh repeats everything - and seems to memorize phrases, movements, & songs at quite an impressive speed (in my opinion).  Honestly, it's adorable to me.  Hearing her sing songs she's only heard a few times, listening to her teach her stuffed animals her Bible verses that she knows, picking up on the phrases Steve & I use while praying, and then saying things like "Just two more minutes mommy" - they each have brought a smile to my face and my heart.
However, this past week, she started saying "Oh my GOSH!"  And, let me tell you friends, I was NOT happy about it.  There was not even the faintest smile on my face.  It was more like a slap in the face.  Don't get me wrong, I'm aware there are much more vulgar things she could be saying or repeating if they were said or heard in our house...BUT I can't begin to describe how awful it sounded coming from her sweet lips that were just singing "Oh How I Love Jesus".

It took me by surprise, I wanted to immediately get on to her for saying something like that...but I quickly realized she'd only know that phrase if she had heard it...probably more than once - which makes me the guilty party.  I don't guess I even realized I said it often enough for her to pick up on it.  I also wouldn't have classified it as a "vulgar" thing that I say...but it pretty much broke my heart to know that I had taught her that phrase.  It also made me wonder if it sounds as badly to the Lord when I say it as it did to me when she said it.  Do my lips sing one thing and then turn around and say another?  Is that heartbreaking to Him??
I can remember my mom telling my sisters and me that we should be careful of "Oh My ____" anything statements.  That often people automatically go to the ever so popular "OMG" type wording in their heads even if we may not have ever actually said the name of the Lord in vain.  That we were using substitutes and that perhaps it was just as wrong.  I never thought my mom was wrong for thinking that, I just didn't hear it that same way.  At least, not until I heard Ryleigh say it.  I've cried folks (which I know may not come as a surprise to some of you).  I mean, shed tears over my choice of words for the past 10-15 years and especially now as a momma trying to raise this sweet girl up to honor the Lord.

It's clearly become a habit for me, but it doesn't make it right.  I know some of you that are reading this don't agree with me - and that's okay - there's no judgement from me I promise.  It's just what I've been convicted of this week and I'm going to be doing all I can to consciously change not just what comes out of my mouth but letting Him captivate every thought and every phrase that enters into my mind.
For the Father is looking down in love but there's also a little girl who is looking up in love - so I need my head, eyes, mouth, ears, hands, and feet being ever so careful as to not create a stumbling block in my own walk with the Father or in hers.

August 29, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

#338 - a surprise Skype baby shower for Lyllian

#339 - cute new clothes for Lyllian!!

#341 - fresh cut french fries (are there any other kind here??)

#342 - teaching at the ESL class

#345 - close national relationships here in Madagascar

#347 - finishing our first week of preschool/homeschool

August 28, 2013

Prayer Request in Betioky

Steve's here blogging for us today!!

...Here is a little update from Grant and my bush trip this past week with a cool story and something that definitely needs prayer.

We went to Michel's (CEIM pastor in Betioky) house on Tuesday night to hang out with him some.  We were catching up on how things had been going there in Betioky and talking about a leadership training we are planning with him in September.  The topic of cattle thieves came up as it does in most conversations in the bush right now and he began to tell us this story.
He told us that he was now meeting regularly with a cattle thief to do a Bible study.  This came about because the cattle thief had a sore on his right leg from his ankle to his knee.  The cattle thief had gone to the local hospital and they gave him medicine but it did not help.   So, he then turned to traditional medicine and spent all of his money on charms and going to the witch doctor to heal his leg, but this did nothing but leave him broke.  I guess out of desperation, he turned to a pastor to pray for him that his leg would be healed.  He came to Michel to pray for his leg and Michel did but he also preached the Gospel to him.  I wish I could say his leg was healed but it is still not, however he has since become a believer and is meeting regularly with Michel.  They are currently making plans to go and preach the Gospel to the other cattle thieves that he knows.  He was apparently a big guy among the cattle thieves and has been doing it for a while now.  Michel told us that his new friend was good friends with a notorious cattle thieve that was caught in Betioky in 2001.

Pray for Pastor Michel and this new endeavor he has set out on because it will be very dangerous.  Cattle thieves are a real and ever growing danger here in the Southern part of Madagascar.  We covet your prayers for not only his safety but for all the missionaries going out to the bush in the South.

August 27, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits

Don't you just love beautiful promises that you know will never fail??  I know I do..."In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end."  PSALM 102 : 25 – 27 

My sweet & beautiful friend Tessa, served here in Madagascar for 5 years, she left and headed to the States for the next season in her life back in June but has still been keeping up her blog.  This past week she wrote a beautiful entry that I wanted to share with you guys!  http://momentsinmada.blogspot.com/2013/08/self-image.html

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."  EPHESIANS 3 : 20

August 26, 2013

Of Biblical Proportions

We met recently as a team to discuss Disaster Relief preparations and plans for where we live.  In order to be best prepared in the future, we had to talk about the possibilities of things that could happen in the areas around us.  As we were talking about the state that our people live in daily...it came to light that they are living through disasters daily.  While we already knew this was true, there's something about talking about each disaster out loud that made it seem more "real".

Currently, the Mahafaly and other groups are living in the midst of a drought, famine, and a locust plague.  I was overwhelmed by how much it sounded like a scene from the Old Testament.  Add to that  a corrupt government and cattle thieves that are massacring villages and well it all seems pretty dim.  Then, when we start thinking about what we can do to make a difference...there are lots of wonderful & fantastic ideas...however, the implementation is a whole other thing - there are many obstacles to overcome...lack of resources, culture, taboos, and the list goes on.

All of these thoughts were overwhelming but then, He reminded me that He is a Biblical God.  You know?  As in, the same God who parted the Red Sea, flooded the entire earth, raised people from the dead, and once again the list goes on.  He is the God of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and today.  He's the same God.  He never changes.  None of these disasters, old or new, are overwhelming to Him.  He knows the disasters that are happening now, He knows the future, He knows what He will call us to do, and He will equip us to do the good works He has set aside for us - nothing more and nothing less.  

There are days here that make it much easier to imagine what Old Testament times looked like...but perhaps He's just trying to show me Who He is in the midst of every era.

August 24, 2013

Stories from the Bush

Grant and Steve normally take biweekly trips out to the bush...if you wonder what their time looks like out there you can look here or here or check out this post. Occasionally, they may do other trips and sometimes less but usually it's 2 different times each month.  God is doing some incredible things in the lives of the believers that are living in Mahafaly Land.  I seem to ALWAYS remember to ask you to pray but it seems that I usually forget to tell you how it went and give glory to Him for what He is doing.  So, after seeing a post from my supervisor and friend Jodie, I decided to recommit to giving you updates from their trips out.  Below you will find an excerpt from Grant's journal from their first trip out in August.

"...I told them we understood their daily struggle with ancestral ways versus Christian ways but that Steve and I, our families, and our church partners pray specifically for them and this struggle.  During this discussion, Emanda said that one day when he was walking near another village, one of his friends asked him about what the white people were doing in Kilimary.  He told them that we had come to “mampivavaka” (literally translated make pray – a term used for pastors and missionaries).  His friend answered back that they too had missionaries that had come to make them pray and had brought food, clothes, shoes, water, and other materials.  He asked Emanda what we had brought.  Emanda said that we brought the truth of the gospel.  He told his friend that we had become friends and they didn’t need all those other things because the gospel was changing their lives. 

Emanda also said that he didn’t trust some pastors and church leaders.  He said that two different church leaders had borrowed $50 from him.  He was never repaid the money borrowed.  He went on to say that we were different because we practice what we preach.  We preach to only have one wife, and only have one wife.  We preach not to steal, and we don’t take money and leave town.  He said that they trust us, and listen and respect the things that we teach.  He told us that they do this because we had built a good relationship with them first and that meant a lot to them."

Also, if you'd like to keep up with everything that's going on ministry wise in SW Madagascar - be sure and check out our team blog.  You can even sign up to pray for a village and then have access to every update regarding that specific village.  We covet your prayers and are truly grateful for them.  If I forget to update you - ask!  Help me remember because I do not want to forsake glorifying my Father for what He is doing in SW Mada!

August 22, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

linking up with my friend Christina today - go check out what she's thankful for!

#312 - bad dreams that result in late night cuddles with Ryleigh

#314 - iphone videos from family

#316 - living room dance parties

#321 - PE time with daddy

#325 - Ryleigh learning songs in Malagasy

#329 - unplanned beach days with friends

#332 - Ryleigh asking Eli to "Cinderella Dance" with her

#335 - encouragement from friends back at home 

August 20, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits

- There has been lots of craziness around the world lately with the closing of US embassies and such...what a reminder of that nothing in this world can shake Him or His power.  Grateful for these words this week...
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. “ ISAIAH 54 : 10

- I do love surprises and my friend Erica sent me one in the mail this week (well actually she probably sent it about a month ago - but it just came in!) - such a beautiful reminder of the Love that can pour through us when we are focusing on Love Himself.

- Great post from our teammates the Smiths on a Masikoro believer (The Masikoro are one of the SW Mada people groups) - check it out here

- "For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end."  PSALM 48 : 14 

- Guest writer on Ann’s blog this week and it was amazing…check it out here.