Where Would You Like To Go?

May 30, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Nothing

We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that Lisa Jo posts here.
No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.
Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

That's what He created everything out of.

The word seems to almost create a void when I say it.
An unfilled sheet of paper.
A vast expanse of meadow.
An empty wall.

No items to work with, no tools to create with -
just -

I too have nothing.
nothing apart from Him
nothing to offer that is worthy of a Savior
nothing to give that should matter to a King

Everything I think is something -
a spouse
a job
a home
a family

all of it is

they are all things - and things can fill our lives -
but not one of those things amounts to anything in light of Who He is

I am nothing.

Gratefully, He creates wonderful & marvelous things from just that
from nothing.

Glory to Him.

May 28, 2014

A Gem

It's 2012 and we have recently moved to the town of Tulear.  The stench of the town meets you like an invisible wall as you enter it's limits.  It seems almost comical that it is indeed a "beach town" because it looks nothing like what you'd imagine one should look like.  Tulear is poverty stricken and seemingly always busy yet everyone seems to be just sitting around.

After a few months, I realize one of my favorite places is the craft market by the ocean.  The curios (souviners) for sale are fun to browse through and the ladies that work there make it fun to practice language.  By October of that year, it became a place that I frequented weekly.  I would pousse over to the market, and gracefully uneventfully step stumble out of the pousse.  Using lots of hand guestures and broken Malagasy, I'd make sure the driver would wait for me.  As I'm carefully walking  over the pot holes and pieces of trash, I laugh to myself because I realize the driver isn't going to leave me stranded because I haven't paid him yet.  I smile and say "Salama" to the ladies selling bonbon (candy) at the onset of the market and duck my head under the lambas (wraps) for sale that are flying in the wind.
I nod & smile to the ladies who are always there, as I peer through the necklaces and souviners that hang along the pathway. Luxia leans back from her perch on a tiny stool and waves at me down the dirt path.  The way she always knows exactly when to lean back and wave at me, reminds me that my Malagasy must still be very foriegn sounding...Luxia knows as soon as she hears it that it's me.  I've never been to visit her when she doesn't have a smile on her face and makes me feel welcome.  She stands up to greet me and kisses me on each cheek...something I doubt I'll ever be accustomed to.  She graciously offers me the tiny wooden bench that looks like it may snap under my weight and I tell her that I don't mind just sitting on the floor.
The curios that she sells in her shop seem to be the same ones that are always there, and I wonder again how this shop supports her whole family. Yet, I notice that she already has lunch cooking in her black pot to the side of her booth.  I make a mental note to be sure and leave before lunch time because otherwise she will offer me some of whatever little they have.  After checking in with one another, and her asking where Ryleigh is (which she always does even though she knows what the answer will be), she walks and gets her Bible out of a colorful basket.
Luxia grew up in a Catholic church and knows a good deal about the Bible but rarely read it for herself because she was taught to simply listen to the priest and believe what he said.  Watching her now, open up His word for herself is such a joy.  She is literate and has throughly enjoyed reading the Malagasy Bible for herself.  We've worked our way through the plan of salvation and a track in the national language.  She has learned that the answers to each question are not found through me or a priest but through God's word.
Fast forward to 2014 and Luxia is working on memorizing the ST4T set via an AudiBible that is in her dialect.  She is meeting with a coworker and sharing these stories as well as telling them to her girls every night.  Luxia is a gem - truly, she makes my life sparkle after time spent with her.  Her patience is astounding as she listens & helps me with my dialect and always encourages me to pray in Malagsy no matter how hard it may be for her to understand.  I am grateful that the Lord chose for our paths to cross.  She has reminded me to always pay attention to who the Lord brings in my life from day to day.  Some of the greatest relationships for His kingdom may begin in a place that you never expected.

May 26, 2014


I walk in, notice there is not a couch, and sit in a green floral chair.  It's one of the highback kind that will forever remind me of the one that sits in my parent's living room...but this one does not recline.  I find this funny because I always imagined a counselor's office was required to have a couch...or atleast a reclining chair.  Perhaps this isn't going to be exactly like I imagined.

On the way here, I practiced what I would say in my head.  I knew what I would need to say to get back home, to make everything okay and to go back to Madagascar.  When she walked in and shook my hand, it was a little disarming.  She seemed instantly like someone I would be friends with in "real life".  I grab the pillow out of the chair to hold in my lap, something that I often don't realize I'm doing until I'm already seated because it's such a habit...and we start talking.

The hour passed faster than I thought it would and it seemed to have passed in quite a blur.  However, there's one thing that sticks out...I believe it is a question that will forever be burned into my memory.  "How do you think God feels about you thinking that?"  She didn't say it in reference to one thought...it was more of a collection of thoughts and over the next 4 weeks it would prove to come up again & again - not just in my sessions but in my personal quiet time as well.

He used that woman & that question to start the process of destroying idols in my heart.  Idols that I didn't even recognize as such because they had become such a part of my life.  Pride, stubborness, selfishness, other's expectations, the Law (often one I created myself), and the list could go on.  As they came to light in my time spent in that green floral chair, I was suprised & reflective, yet because of His grace, I unexpectedly didn't drown in shame.

He met me there.

My God was there to take every single idol away, I watched Him shatter them, and I prayed that I would not spend any time trying to piece them back together.  The shame that I had felt before I entered that room for the first time was slowly slipping away and that opening was being filled with His love & acceptance.

Oh, I didn't deserve it - not at all - but that's what He did.  He filled me up.  He loved on me.  My whole world seemed to turn into things He was trying to teach me, trying to show me.  He used my family to support, help, & encourage.  He used email & facebook to provide a constant stream of encouragement and prayers.  He used worship songs and Scripture to speak healing into my soul.  He is walking me into more and more of His marvelous light.  His light feels so good - like walking into the sun on a cold & windy day.  I am grateful beyond words that the Enemy can not take away His light.

The idols have been destroyed.
oh God, how I pray they are never to be seen again.

I am being remade.
Holy Creator, make me more like You.

How amazing to serve a Savior who can both demolish & remake with the same beautiful nail-scared hands

May 23, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Close

We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that Lisa Jo posts here.
No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.
Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

She woke up a littler warmer than usual.  Her smiles and giggles dismissed any thought of her being sick.  By the time it was time to go to church, I started thinking she might have a little fever.
During worship she slept on my shoulder, holding tight to a strand of my hair.

There is just something about holding someone that close.

Whispering songs from your soul to your Lord right beside her tiny ear that is yet to understand the significance of the words.  Praying in faint murmurs for the immediate needs of her to feel better and the long term one of her to know her ultimate Healer.

Shifting ever so slightly because any discomfort is nothing compared to the feeling of her completely content on me.  I softly kiss her head, words falling short of how I feel in this moment.

Overwhelmed that He would allow me to hold such a gift so close.
That clean baby smell has to be one of the most refreshing in the whole world.  I try to take it all in...the size that she is in my arms, how light she feels, the way her hands holds so tightly to my hair, and the tiny rise & fall of her back.

She is close and I wish I could keep her that way forever...

May 21, 2014

Grace Gifts

A little shy from a year of starting my gratitude journal, I recorded gift #1000.  Honestly, it took me too long to get there - I had a few weeks that I was not faithful in recording daily gifts.  However, He still has taught me much about His grace and the gifts that surround me on a daily basis.

It has been eye opening to slow down and recognize His grace around me.  The tiny things that are so often taken for granted that are truly quite "big" things.  The mundane, routine, gifts of life that I never batted an eye about but once I started searching...I sat in awe.

the little girl that wants to read a story right when I'm in the middle of doing paperwork

the dough that has to be made from scratch

how brightly the stars shine when the electricity is cut

the flowers that seem to always be in bloom

cries in the middle of the night

the washing machine

the Malagasy language

4 hours of consecutive sleep

running to greet daddy from coming home from the bush

the broken bench I sit on to study the Bible with Luxia

and the list can indeed go on and on

"All is grace" says Ann Voscamp, and I agree with her.  My cup really does "runneth over" even in the midst of the ugly beautiful gifts.

He is good.
God is good.
All the time.

May 19, 2014

An Adventure 7 years in the making

Can't believe I met this guy 10 years ago this year...
Best friends in Clinton (our college town)
Plane rides to Maryland to visit him as he was serving as a youth minister

It seems like a lifetime ago and just yesterday all at the same time.  9 different jobs between the two of us, 4 national moves and 2 international ones, 4 foreign countries, and 2 beautiful baby girls later - you are still the one that I say "I Do" to.  
I do promise to put you second only to Christ.  
I do promise to be a lifelong learner when it comes to how best respect you. 
I do promise to love you all of my days.  
I do.

Here's a look at the past 7 years and praying that we are used for His glory in however many years we have left here on earth...

Most beautiful rehersal dinner ever

Honeymoon in British Columbia

Move to Ft Worth for Seminary
Thanksgiving on the beach (yes I had on a helmet!)

Weekends in Austin (looking forward to another this Fall!!)
Ft Worth nights with some of the most teriffic friends
Move back to Clinton 
loved sharing life with these 2 (and can't wait to do so again SOON!)
Appointment week in North Carolina
Became a family of THREE!
Moved to Madagascar

Welcomed Rock & Lhi Lhi to Madagascar
Moved to Tulear
Celebrated our 5 year anniversary in Zambia after our 40/40 training
Had Aunt Alanna stay with us for the summer

Had 2 mission teams & Grandma come to visit us in Tulear
Flew to the States to celebrate Chesney & Casey's wedding
Continue to live & serve alongside an amazing (yet, ever changing) family/team in Tulear
 We became a family of 4
and those are just the big things - our lives have been so filled with His grace gifts - every single day for far before we even met...beyond grateful to be on this adventure with you!
I love you so much Steve Roberts - Happy Anniversary!!

May 16, 2014

Lyllian ~ 5 months

Miss Lyllian ~
How you fill our hearts with joy!  When you are awake the room is filled with giggles and grins and you make anyone smile who is near you.  You are SUCH a happy baby!
     This month you have started grabbing onto your toys/teethers and you hold on tight!  It's pretty enertaining to watch you throw your arms around when holding a toy...we're waiting on the day when you bop yourself upside the head!  You also started rolling over this month.  

About 2 weeks ago you rolled from your tummy to your back and this week you started rolling from your back to your tummy.  You sleep best on your tummy and now every morning when I come to get you - you're rolled over, smiling up at me, just a sucking that thumb!!

And child, you do LOVE sucking your thumb.  You don't care which hand as long as one of them is near your mouth.  You rarely use it to console you...but let's be honest you don't need much consoling most of the time.  Have I mentioned you are SUCH a happy baby?

Lyllian, you weigh 14lbs 8oz (38%) and are 26 inches long (84%)!  You are wearing 3-6 month clothes and some of those are still a bit big on you everywhere except in length!  You do not like having socks on - you have become quite the expert at kicking them off!

You really enjoy laying on your back or sitting in your chair looking around at the world...especially at your big sister.  She made you belly laugh for the first time this month...and we even caught it on tape!  She is as enamored with you as you are with her.  If she is anywhere around, then you're going to be watching her and could care less about anything else.

You are on a pretty regular 3 1/2 hour schedule & sleeping from 7pm - 4am, and then you'll go back to sleep until 7:30 after I feed you.  You are such an excellent traveler and don't mind being in your car seat at all...which is completely different than your older sister!

I can't believe you are 5 months old already...time is flying and we are loving every moment.  Completely grateful that He has given me you!  I love you!

Ryleigh  5 months

Lyllian 5 months