Where Would You Like To Go?

February 28, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Choose

There are literally thousands of choices in any given day...even over here on this side of the world where some things are a bit more simplified.  

wake up yet or not?
cereal or muffins?
quiet time or Facebook?
let Ryles watch TV or not?
and that's all in the first 20 minutes of the day.

however the choice that I find myself struggling with the most - that I find I regret more at the end of the day for choosing the wrong way...is just doing the fun things with her...reading books not related to school, using our imaginations for the beanbag to become a rocket ship, swinging outside no matter how hot it is, drawing pictures with sidewalk chalk, and of course dancing to every single Frozen song...
i start my day with a to do list - written or just in my head - and i find myself judging myself & my day based on what's checked off by the time i fall asleep...

but one day all too soon those toys aren't going to be scattered all over the floor in every single room,
 she isn't going to think it's cool to play with her mom, 
her imagaination will work a little bit differently
and sadly i won't be the best dancer she knows...

here's to making the right choices today - to choosing LIFE over lists - to choosing her over things - to choosing that abundant life that He came to give!

February 27, 2014

For His Glory

In case you haven't noticed - we travel. a LOT. I used to always pray the same prayer no matter what growing up in regards to travel..."Lord, please allow us to arrive safely.  Please protect the vehicle/airplane/bus/etc and get us to our destination."  I'm not totally convinced there is something wrong with that prayer but I have been convicted that it's not how I should be praying in regards to travel.

So, for the past few years my prayers have been something more similar to "God, thank you for today and for the chance to be going to _____.  I pray that You would use this trip to glorify Your name above all things.  If that means we arrive safely & smoothly then that would be lovely.  If Your name will be glorified more through a different path/outcome then I ask for Your wisdom in handling whatever may come...even if that means that one or more of us does not arrive at all.  I trust that Your plans are higher than mine and that You will work it for the glory of Your name.  Amen."
Last week, we flew home from Johannesburg.  I have the utmost respect for any parent who is traveling with a child but my respect increased dramatically for any parent out there who has done it by themselves!  Steve wrangled all of our luggage & carry ons while I tried to keep a curious toddler & a hungry baby occupied until we could get checked in.  It was a process for sure!  Perhaps needless to say, I don't remember really taking a deep breath until we were all seated on the plane.  Looking out the window that Wednesday morning, I spoke those now familiar words to the Lord.  I reminded myself that there are no guarantees in this life aside from those spoken to us by the Father and I prayed for His name to be glorified through our lives however that may be.
Once we landed in Madagascar, I whispered a prayer of thanks (while Ryleigh shouted for the whole plane to hear "We DID it! We are in MADA!! Yippee mommy!!") and almost immediately the Lord brought my earlier prayer to mind.  He reminded me that I asked for His name to be glorified whatever that looked like.  He revealed to my heart that us landing safely & smoothly didn't just mean He got us there safely.  It meant that He would be glorified most (for now) by us all living.  By us all being there.  Right now one way that His name is glorified is by our family living in Madagascar.  His plan is to have us right here.

This was so huge for me because I guess I've always just stopped right after the "safely arrived at home" part.  I've given Him the glory for getting us there, but then just stopped and moved on to the next thing.  But that's not how He works is it?  Everything is part of a bigger picture, a greater plan, & the furtherance of His kingdom.  Gratefully praying that I (through His grace & strength) can indeed bring glory to His name by living out His love in the day to day.

February 22, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Small

Tiny fingers & toes
Itty bitty ears & nose 
Little bell shaped mouth
And deep blue eyes
So small yet such a big difference. 
She's a life changer, a dream fulfiller, a joy inducer,a sleep depriver,& a love giver
And that's just for me
I can't imagine who she will be for all the people she will meet in her lifetime. All the ways He will use her for His glory, Lord willing. 
So small
So still
So unaware
May we all be so small that He may be greater in us & do big things. 

February 19, 2014

Ryleigh - 3 years

Ryleigh, what a joy it is to celebrate your 3rd birthday!
Your bright smile, infectious laugh, compassionate heart, and huge hugs make our world a better place.  I think it just depends on the day if we could call you a daddy's girl or a momma's girl.  Daddy definitely wins after he's been in the bush for a few days...this year you really started realizing that he left and his absence was noticed while he was gone.  You love listening for him to come in the gate when I tell you he's about to come home.
You have grown in so many ways this year!  Your vocabulary has expanded, you have learned quite a few Bible verses, and you definitely have a repertoire of songs that you love to sing (and even make up at times!)  You are super tall & most people (especially in Mada) think that you are closer to 5 years instead of just now turning 3.  You are 34lbs 13oz and 3ft 5in tall.
We have enjoyed doing preschool together this year and I am honored that I get to teach you everyday.  I'm not sure how long it will last but for now you enjoy me being your teacher and we both look forward to school time!  Your favorite thing you have learned this year is how to count to 10 in Malagasy, often preferring to count that way rather than in English!  At the moment, you don't care too much for tracing letters or learning how to write - but you do enjoy all types of art and reading books.  You can recognize all of your shapes & colors and you love being the "teacher" and correcting me when I give you a wrong answer.
During this year, we were able to go to the States for your Aunt Chesney's wedding and you enjoyed getting to see everyone back in "sippi".  And because you were going to be a big sister, Lhi Lhi was even here to help us celebrate your birthday this year!
One of the biggest changes that happened in all of our lives this year is welcoming Lyllian to our family.  You talked about her & to her for the entire pregnancy and that hasn't stopped now that she's born.  You adore her and cover her with kisses as much as possible.  If she's crying, you start singing right away to her.  You are an awesome big sister!
Ryleigh, you do love being the center of attention...if it's your idea.  Your imagination runs wild and it's so much fun to watch & be apart of.  You love being a princess, doctor, & puppy - occasionally switching between the 3 all at the same time!  If you see anything that looks like it could be a stage then you get on it and grab your "microphone or guitar" and start singing away.
One of my favorite things about you is how quick you are to ask for prayer and/or thank God for things...even when we might be prone to laugh because you say "Thank you God for my hair being dry" or any other number of funny things.  Honestly, we are grateful that He is the one you thank and that you are aware enough already to know that He deserves the praise for everything big and small.  We give Him the praise for you sweet girl - I love you more than I ever knew possible.  I thank Him for the gift of you for however long He chooses to entrust me with you.  
I love you,

February 17, 2014

Lyllian Abigail - 1 & 2 months

1 month
Time has flown my precious little miracle!  Your first month was completely unexpected since you're due date was still a week past celebrating your 1st month!  What great plans the Lord has for all of us!  From the beginning you have been such a strong girl - rolling from side to side since you were 2 weeks old!  You have been such a laid back baby and have slept most of every day (and night!)  You have definitely grown this month - you're up to 8lbs 13oz and 22 inches long.  Your sweet little life has already been COVERED in prayers from around the globe - literally.  What a grace gift you are!

2 months
It seems that when we hit your original due date (Jan 22nd) you became a different baby!  You have started being more alert and your gorgeous blue eyes are open much more often!  You are stealing our hearts with your adorable smile and we love watching you follow our voices with your head turns.  With becoming more alert, your shrills have become much louder and seemingly more frequent.  You are now 10lbs 5oz and are 22 1/4 inches long.  You rolled over from back to tummy this month and you can hold your head up very well - you are such a strong baby!  Happy Valentine's Day, my 2 month old!

February 14, 2014

Never Once

I'm not sure I have the words to adequately express what it feels like to wake up at 3:30 am with a sick child after getting in the bed at 3:00am from feeding the baby.  I continue to be at a loss for how to describe what it feels like to know your sick child seems to not be in control of what her body is doing.  Or to know people are boarding a flight right in front of you that could have taken you home.  Or to have your baby girl go limp and pass out in your arms.  I just don't have the words.
It was intense.
It was scary.
I screamed when it happened...loudly...
In those moments right after it happened...the moments that should have been defined by fear & chaos...there was peace.  Now, we had no idea what to do or how to go about doing the next thing BUT there was indeed peace.  I can't make this kind of thing up.  It was His peace.  I had no idea what was wrong, if it was going to happen again, or if it was a random incident...but I knew that He knew.
Sleeping at the airport
Rewind to almost 4 years ago when we found out we were pregnant with Ryleigh.  I can't tell you how many people asked us if we were taking her to Madagascar with us.  Some honestly couldn't believe it and more than likely thought we were horrible parents for doing so.  And if I'm completely transparent with you then I have to say that there have been times since arriving in Madagascar that I wonder if it's the right place for her.  We are far away from any type of specialized medical care, yes, that means things (not good/fun things) could happen when we're in Mada and there would be no doctor who could help us.  As a parent, the fear of those things can be crippling.  However, no matter where the worrier/sinner in me lets my mind wander, my heart (praise the LORD) knows the Truth.  I know that He knows the number of the hairs on my girls' heads.  I know that His love for them makes my own look tiny.  And I know He has called them to Mada just as He has called us - lack of medical care & all.
Packing up for our move to Mada - July 2011
So, back to present day...it seems, at the moment, that is what He's teaching me through today.  He's reminding me that they are His and not mine.  Whispering to me that my girls are gifts from Him, entrusted to me & Steve but belong to Him and His glory.  This episode today could have easily happened in Madagascar - far away from decent medical care...and that would have been okay.  He would have still been in control.  That knowledge helped me remember today that it wasn't about how fast we could get to the ER but how fast we could come before His throne.  Am I thankful to be in a place where we could go to an ER?  absolutely.  but an ER doesn't save lives...He does.  He may use an ER to do so and for that I am grateful.  follow me?  It was a reminder that He cares for them & has perfect plans for them.  Of course, His plans for them may be scary for this momma sometimes but they will ALWAYS be about bringing Him glory & praise.  What more could a momma ask for?
As nurses tried to draw blood today from a very tired, very sick, & very frightened little girl - the Lord had me singing one of her favorites to her..."I Love You, Lord"...when they were finished (& she was finished crying) she held my hand and said "that's my favorite song momma".  He was there, every step of the way...through songs, through prayers, through texts - never once did He leave us on our own - He is faithful.

Tonight, as I tucked her in - she joined in her night time song and sang the words "prepare her heart Lord to love you only" and I couldn't hold the tears back anymore.
That is the mission.  That we would all love Him only.
What a reminder on this untypical Valentine's Day...

Happy Valentine's Day

We are spending our Valentine's Day headed back home to Madagascar...so we celebrated a little bit all week long!  

Steve set me up with a spa appointment while we were away 2 weeks ago and I throughly enjoyed my early Valentine present!!  Thanks baby, I love you!
This past Tuesday, when we headed to the cardiologist for Lyllian's appointment - hearts seemed to be the focus of all of our minds.  My mom talked to me about how if there was something that sounded different in Lyllian's heart - to remember that we know only the Creator could have put it there.  It was such a sweet reminder of how intimately He loves each of us and I can't help but rejoice in that today as we celebrate a day of love.  It also serves as an ever present reminder that so many of the people that we are flying back to right now have no idea how much God loves them.  While we throughly enjoyed our time in Joburg with my parents and 1st world things - we are grateful for the opportunity to return and share His love with those that He has called us to.  
As you celebrate (or not) today please remember to lift up all of those who do not know the joy that His love brings.

Wishing each of you a Happy Valentine's Day!!

February 13, 2014


yesterday we dropped 2 of my absolute favorite people off at the airport.  it was hard.  really hard.
three years ago (and all the years before then) when people would ask me about moving overseas - i always smiled, big & brave - told them i knew it might be tough sometimes but it's where i was called.  and it still is.  however that "tough" thing...that was/is something i wasn't entirely prepared for.  i didn't know what it would look like - and i didn't know that these 2 beautiful girls that we have would make parts of this journey amazingly easier and at the same time incredibly harder.
i love to dream.  i love to imagine, to think, to plan...but sometimes it gets me so emotional that i can't see because of the tears streaming down my face.
how do i balance it?
how do i balance knowing we are called to
be thousands of miles away
100s of goodbyes at airports
relationships that are strethened through skype calls instead of face to face
hugs that are never quite long enough
not being there for the day to day of extended family life
updates on life through emails & Facebook

with also knowing we are called to

how does that one thing balance with all of the others?  how is that enough to keep on keeping on?  my heart knows.  i know.  i know that it's because He is infitely greater than anything that i can come up with on the other side of the balance.  i know that is true.  i also know it's tough.  this morning and perhaps many mornings to follow, i'm grateful for His word...what He has taught me recently through the account of David's life.  that it's okay to grieve that which I perceive as "losses", it is okay to question and cry out, it is okay to praise even when my emotions may not line up with "praising".
He is enough even on the days that i feel my heart may be breaking.  He is enough when I am ready to make a list of all that I have "given up" for His calling on my life.  He gently wipes the tears away, gracefully shows me that I have given up nothing in comparison to the sacrifice of His son, and mercifully forgives my selfishness.
there is nothing that can truly be considered a sacrifice if i'm being honest, not in light of Who He is.
serving Him is an honor...even on the tough days
even on the days when i cant find the words to say it aloud...
He is MORE than enough...
He alone is worthy of the praise & the glory...
He alone is worthy to be followed.