Where Would You Like To Go?

October 30, 2013

Sisterly Encouragement

Encouragement from sisters of whom we may never meet on this side of heaven...that's what running this race together means...right?!?

"Kingdom business. Jesus work. This shaping of souls. This raising tiny humans.
There are those that say that this is ordinary. Don’t buy that for a second.
Mighty. You are mighty, because you mother."

You need to go and check out the rest of this MIGHTY post by Lisa Jo.

October 29, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits

A look into our world this past week...

Ryleigh found 2 dolls made by churches in the States that were leftover from a trip last year to a nearby orphanage.  She immediately thought they were both hers.  After some explaining that they were dolls for other little girls, we decided to take a pousse ride to find a little girl to give one to.  Ryleigh spotted this little girl and climbed out of the pousse to give it to her.  Grateful for opportunities to share His love and teach Ryleigh about giving!

After almost a month, things are finally in their place in our new house - here's a picture of Ryleigh's "big girl" room!  Oh and Ryleigh picked out the paint for her room - but I'm a huge fan!

Steve had a small garden at our first home but it was mostly in random pots just to see what would grow.  After a good bit of success, he had room at this house to build a bigger garden...Ryleigh calls it hers though - guess we'll see how that goes!

And on the other side of the world, my Papaw - since March - has been in the hospital, hospice, and now an assisted living facility.  He even got to travel with my parents to a family reunion this past weekend!  My dad sent me a picture of Papaw sporting my Dad's sunglasses - it made me smile and I am overjoyed with how well he is doing!

October 24, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

#449 - Parents & inlaws who go out of their way to show their love to us

#452 - pousse rides with Ryleigh

#456 - muddy princess

 #459 - a week with no long electricity cuts

#461 - making music wherever we go

#462 - quality conversations with Steve about our God, our love, our life

#466 - worship

 #470 - learning how to give joyfully

October 22, 2013

Tuesday Thoughts

It will come as no surprise to most of you that I have been sick for a large portion of this 27 weeks of pregnancy.  As far as compared to my first pregnancy the two have been radically different.  There have been many jokes made about how "easy" my being pregnant with Ryleigh was and I was within walking distance of fantastic doctors & an easy car ride to a 1st world hospital vs now being so sick and living in a 3rd world country.  Slightly ironic...don't ya think?

There have been countless prayers lifted up for our health and for wisdom.  He has been gracious & faithful to provide over & over for all that we need.  We are grateful...but, I feel the need to be honest with you - transparent as I can, though we live 1/2 a world away from most of you.  I have been - and sometimes still am - frustrated.

I'm not a "bed rest" kinda gal.  I like doing...I enjoy productivity...I feel a sense of accomplishment in checking things off the proverbial "to do" list.  When these things don't happen, I don't quite feel like myself.  I feel shame, guilt, and like I am being a hinderance to everyone in my life.  No matter how it may sound at this point, it's truly not in a "pity party" type of way...it's in a  "I truly want to get off the couch/bed and DO something."  And don't think for a moment that there weren't days during the 1st trimester "all day sickness" and this 2nd trimester when I tried, when I pushed myself to do far more than I should have been doing.  My body (and Lyllian's) would be quick to remind me that I simply couldn't & needed to stop.  Enter more frustration.

This morning, I woke up feeling queasy.  I literally sighed and pushed myself out of bed, refusing to stay in a moment longer.  I came to the living room & "Revelation Song" was the first one playing as I turned on my computer.  "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, worthy, worthy is He."  His peace was flowing but I was hesitant.  I just wanted to feel healthy.  I longed to spend a day of keeping up with our active toddler and not telling her that we could pick one thing to do & then I'd need to rest.
And then my eyes read these words..."Intellectually you rejoice in My sovereignty, without which the world would be a terrifying place. But when My sovereign will encroaches on your little domain of control, you often react with telltale resentment." - Jesus Calling, Sarah Young.   I sat up a little straighter...this was it.

This was my problem...my sin.  I forgot that I am not in control.  I forgot that His sovereignty transcends everything - even the day to day things.  "Remember that all good things—your possessions, your family and friends, your health and abilities, your time—are gifts from Me. Instead of feeling entitled to all these blessings, respond to them with gratitude. Be prepared to let go of anything I take from you, but never let go of My hand!" - Jesus Calling, Sarah Young.

Everything in this life is a gift.  The breaths we take, the opening/closing of our eyes, the beat of our heart...none of those things do we deserve but so often I just expect them.  I expect good health.  I expect for our daughter to run (and talk) full speed ahead every day.  I expect Steve to come home safely from the bush. If I live my life this way, what happens the day I wake up to find things different from how I expected?  It's not pretty - that's for sure.  However, if I remember to find His gifts, His grace in each of the day to day "normal" things then I will be ever reminded of His faithfulness & sovereignty. He can enable me to wake up to an abnormal day, and have praise on my lips...perhaps with tears in my eyes but praise nonetheless. He has chosen at this moment to bless me with the gift of rest, the gift of a growing baby girl in my tummy, the gift of a toddler who has boundless energy, and the gift of a husband who has returned home safely from the bush...but at any moment that He sees fit those gifts could change.

For who am I to know what the moments that lie ahead hold?  As Job says "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away...BLESSED be His name".  

October 21, 2013

Pastor Toria

We've mentioned Pastor Toria before in our blog...most recently he is one of the pastors who helped lead the Lay Leadership Training in the bush.  Please read Steve's account of his most recent visit with Toria...

This past week during our bush trip to Mahafaly land we decided to go by and visit Pastor Toria in Beheloka.  Like always, we did our formal greetings with him and his family and asked him what was new there.  He proceeded to tell us that he was glad that we had come by because he did not know if we would have seen him again if his family had moved.  We were confused and asked for more explanation because we did not know they were looking to move.  He told us that they were in the process of making a decision as to whether or not to stay in Beheloka and continue to do ministry.  
While fighting back tears he began to share how hard life was there for him and his family in Beheloka.  They have been there eight years now and for the first four years there, they slept in the kitchen of a church member's house; yes, not an extra bedroom, but the kitchen.  After that time, they were able to build a tiny house that barely fit their entire family.  He and his wife have four kids and they have adopted one more.  Two years ago they built a little bigger house, but still small, next to the tiny one where he and his wife slept with the baby.  The older kids slept in the tiny house until it burned down last year and they were left with one house again.  
Also, for the past eight years they have struggled to get fresh water since Beheloka is a coastal town and all the water is salty.  Food is another thing that has been hard on them.  The town they live in does not have a huge market with tons of vegetables and many days they can only find cassava to eat.  For the first seven years there, Toria would go out daily and catch fish to be able to provide meat for his family, but it was hard on him to do that and be a pastor.  Earlier this year he decided to give up fishing and focus more on his ministry at the church and his three nearby preaching points.  That put a huge burden on his family with food as well.  
Please understand that I am talking about a rural bush village that he lives in.  There is no electricity or running water.  The name of the town literally means "Big Sin."  He is the only pastor that lives in that town.  The Catholic and Lutheran priests just stop in occasionally.  He also goes out into three other nearby villages and preaches the gospel, some of which take an hour to get to on foot.  He has been a catalyst in starting a church in one town just south of Beheloka in the past year that already has a building and has 50 to 60 meeting there each Sunday morning. 
Some of their recent struggles have been sickness.  His whole family got really sick back in July and they have been battling sickness ever since.  More recently, his wife had to be brought into Tulear to receive treatment.  She has a serious and painful medical issue, the doctor sent her home to Beheloka with medicine, but she now needs to come back to Tulear for more treatment and meds.  This provides another stress on their family in a financial way.
I have written all of this information here about this great, Godly man for you to be able to lift him and his family up in your prayers.  We learned yesterday that his decision as of now is to stay in Beheloka.  He traveled up to Tulear to talk to his supervisor yesterday and other pastors along his route encouraged him.  While here in Tulear, he also learned that if he leaves his town, that the church in Tulear will probably not be able to find another pastor that would be willing to live in Beheloka because they know how hard it is to live there. 
Please join us in praying for Toria, his family, and his ministry in Beheloka.

October 18, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Laundry

I look forward to these posts once a week - five minutes, start to finish, no editing, no rethinking (aka over thinking for me!) - just writing and hey I don't even have to come up with the topic!  Want to join in?  Read below my post for details!



One of my favorite shirts...has a stain.  As in this weird stain, that I forget is there and then come home and I can see this faint resemblance that tells the world about how clumsy I often am, even with food.  I'm not sure if I'd remember more if I lived in a society that cared about stains...the shirt would probably have already been thrown away or cut up to use the material for something else.  

But here...well...it's just different.  It's my favorite shirt.  It's comfortable.  It's pink.  The stain isn't THAT noticeable.  I'm surrounded by people who weekly wear the same exact clothes for days at a time because it's all they have.  They wear clothes that have holes (that weren't meant to be there), have stains, and are just plain worn out.  So, there's no real reason to not just keep on wearing it for the time being...

...but yet, here I stand with my almost empty bottle of SHOUT! stain remover that I brought over from the States, trying my best to scrub out this more than likely permanent stain.  I sigh and get a little lost in thought just standing in front of the machine.  I feel like this stain sometimes.  The stain that perhaps isn't so noticeable to those around me but I feel like it's glaringly obvious to the One whose thoughts matter.  Thoughts revolving around maybe what I really need is just a long pre-soak...to loosen up the grip that some old stain has on my heart, on my mind, on my body.  Maybe all I really need is a laundry day not so much for the clothes but for myself...


Want to know what Five Minute Friday is all about?  Check out all the details here!

October 17, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

#429 - His counseling Spirit

#433 - organization of a new home

#436 - power outages...they make for great star gazing nights

#441 - comfortable maternity clothes

#444 - rooms that show evidence of fun had & time well spent

#446 - a compassionate heart being formed in Ryleigh

October 16, 2013

Cool Breezes

There have been some refreshing breezes blowing thorough our little town the past two days.  Since hot season has already started, this has been quite a surprise but one that we will take any day of the week! As I was reading this morning and praising Him for the coolness pouring in through the windows...He placed this verse in front of my eyes...
"I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles."  
PSALM 34 : 4 – 6  
My favorite sentence this morning was, "Those to look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame."  How refreshing that truth is!  For my face never has to be covered in shame - despite all of the ways I fail and mess up on a daily basis...when I look to him, I am radiant.  He alone can & does deliver me! I tend to often be hardest on myself, struggle to show grace to myself in the day to day...yet He does.  
He delivers.  He saves.  He makes me radiant. 
What a reminder of the refreshment He is to my soul no matter the temperature outside!

October 13, 2013

A Few Prayer Requests

There are a few things that come up sometimes that are not on our prayer calendar and we'd like to share those with you!

- This week, Steve, Grant, & Drew will be headed out to the bush for a few nights.  
·      Safety - I know we always ask you to pray for their safety on the roads and this trip is no different.  The roads are rough & dangerous all by themselves - throw in cattle thieves and our corrupt political situation here and the tension only rises.  Please pray for His protection, wisdom, & guidance in all decisions regarding their time during this trip.
·      Open Hearts - pray for any who may be in the villages who are not believers who come to listen to the Bible stories
·      Boldness - pray for the believers in the village that they will have boldness to reach out to those who do not come to these gatherings
·      Perseverance - pray for the villagers as they live in very harsh conditions

- October 25th - Election Day - We haven't mentioned this lately because it was supposed to happen back in July (and every year for the past 4 years) and continually is postponed.  However, it does appear that we will have an election later this month.  This will be the primaries with the election coming sometime in Dec.  There are 41 candidates that the Malagasy people will be voting between.
·      Peace - please pray for peaceful elections and peace following the election, no matter the outcome
·      Against Corruption - the government here is corrupt and there are many who believe an election in and of it self is a laughable matter
·      Madagascar as a country - there are many things that we can hope an election may "fix" but the truth is the only thing that can bring true hope to this island is the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Thank you for your continued prayers!

October 12, 2013

World Hunger

  • 1.02 billion people in the world do not have enough to eat. This means one sixth of humanity is undernourished
  • Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes - that's one child every 5 seconds. 
  • An estimated 35% of poor families in the U.S. are forced to choose between buying food and paying their rent or mortgage
  • In US cities, 1 in every 4 people in a soup kitchen line is a child.
  • 100% of all contributions to feed hungry people. (Personnel are already in place; thus, administrative and promotional costs are borne out of other budgets.)
  • From 2009 to 2010, giving to the World Hunger Fund dropped by nearly $1 million 
  • In 2011, Southern Baptist hunger ministries fed more than 5 million meals to the hungry in North America. As a result, more than 33,000 professions of faith were reported.
Statistics from www.worldhungerfund.com

The Global Relief/World Hunger offering is a relief offering for those in the US and around the world.  100% of all gifts go towards helping relieve hunger and catalyzing change in conditions that cause hunger worldwide.  This Sunday will be the day that many Southern Baptist churches emphasize this Global Relief/World Hunger offering.  Please prayerfully consider how He would have you be a part.  

October 11, 2013

5 Minute Friday - Ordinary



Wake up and walk to my "spot", open my Bible and my journal and I sit.  Soaking in as much calm, wisdom, and cool breeze as I can before the sun radiates the heat that is sure to unfold in the next few hours.  Almost like clockwork, the moments pass and I know that Ryleigh will be stirring, ready for our morning routine.  We'll sing our good morning song, give lots of kisses, brush her hair, pick out her clothes, sit in her rocker and read a Bible story, and pray over our day.  By then she'll be bursting at the seams to go give her daddy a hug and to eat breakfast...all ordinary.  The moments, the mornings, the day-to-day - it's all ordinary here.  I laugh when I think about how typical most of our days are to us, how the things that once seemed anything but ordinary have turned into moments we don't even raise an eyebrow to.  And then He whispers...those verses from Luke 6 that I was reading just this ordinary morning - oh He is so anything but ordinary.  He takes this day to day and makes it beautiful.  The sun pouring through the window that lights up His word, the kisses from a loveable two year old, the constant bilingual chatter that fills up our home...all of His extra-ordinary grace, love, and freedom...He changes our ordinary to anything but.


Want to participate??
No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.
Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
It started because I’d (Lisa Jo Baker) been thinking about writing and how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words. And I figured, why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing.
So now on Fridays a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write without worrying if it’s just right gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes.
Your words. This shared feast.
It’s easy to join in, just:
  1. Check what the prompt is on my blog.
  2. Write a post in only five minutes on that topic on your blog.
  3. {And if you don’t have a blog, no worries! Just leave your writing as a comment on my post}
  4. Link over here and invite friends to join in.
  5. Select the permalink to your post {so not your blog url www.lisajobaker.com but your post url www.lisajobaker.com/2012/07/five-minute-friday-2/ }
  6. Using the blue linky tool at the bottom of my Five Minute Friday post enter your link.
  7. It will also walk you through selecting which photo you want to show up in the linky.
  8. Your post will show up in our Five Minute Friday linky.
  9. Be sure and encourage the person who linked up before you!