Monday, March 31, 2008

NOT TOO LATE!

Just wanted to remind my regular readers and notify any new visitors that the drawing is still open for a copy CONFESSIONS OF A GOOD, CHRISTIAN GUY by Tom Davis.


Also, just to give you a heads up, tomorrow I'll be announcing another book giveaway!

I'll leave you with a quote from Tom's book:

With the grace of Christ, you can be free from whatever is a stumbling block in your life. You can change directions. You can live as you were meant to truly live. We need God's grace to really live. Grace is God's presence and goodness always with us. When we're committing sin, ween we're repenting of sin, when we're working ourselves out of the effects of sin---Gd's grace is always with us It's never too late. Nothing can remove God's love or forgiveness from our lives. No matter what damage has been done, it's never too late to build or restore. God can restore things in our lives that seem impossible to repair

A life lived fully begins when we open our hearts to the grace offered us by Jesus Christ. This is a new day. Old things are passed away, and all things become new. You get a new start. Right here, right now.

Click here to enter.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

WANNA GO TO AFRICA?
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Lisa Black---committed mom, loving wife, and passionate missionary to Swaziland---has just announced a trip opportunity to go and catch the vision of ministering to the "children of the dirt". Here's what Lisa has to say:
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We are very excited to announce our first vision trip for Nsoko, Swaziland. Since we arrived in Swaziland a year ago we have been focusing on this rural area which is consumed with great need, as well as some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. One day Gary was showing some of the World Racers an area an hour and a half from our home. They stumbled upon a group of starving children; we have come to refer to as "children of the Dirt". They had not eaten in weeks, and the GoGo that was trying to care for them was beside herself with grief. Knowing God would hear her prayers she told us she never stopped praying that He would send someone to help the children. The precious children in this area all have a story. Some are double orphan, meaning both parents have died. Some children as young as 5 are the oldest living member of their household and struggle to care for their siblings. The poverty is overwhelming, the amount of small children fending for themselves is heartwrentching, and the rate of HIV/AIDS affecting every age group of this country is mind-blowing. However there is hope.
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God has highlighted this country in the hearts of many people around the world. We realize not all people are called to move to a third world country, but we are all commanded in scripture to care for the orphan and the widow. The mission of a "Vision Trip" is to take Americans with a heart for the dying and forgotten men, women and children of Swaziland, and connect the people, heart, and resources of the two countries. It is a controlled environment to expose you to the devastation as well as the beauty and the hope of Africa. Swaziland is considered to be the "pulpit" of Africa, meaning that the prophesy and healing will flow from Swaziland into the rest of the continent. Swaziland is a "one Tribe nation", so tribal warfare is not an issue here, which makes it a safer place to visit than most of the rest of Africa. As the "church" and business leaders of America link hands with the Church and business leaders of Africa miracles begin to happen for everyone.
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Please pray about joining us for 7 days and nights of reality and hope. Through the beauty of the land and its people you will be changed. Through the experiences and relationships you could help change a nation. We will start our days with prayer and then go to minister where the Lord leads us. We will hold and pray for the children, teach them and sing with them. We will minister healing to the GoGos, and encourage them in their daily lives. We will be working on building projects in the homes in the neighborhood. You will see the community center that has just been built and opened, as well as our first G-42 church plant. You will walk the property where the first children's village will soon come to life. We will enjoy a genuine African worship, and meet the people of Nsoko. You will hear their stories and realize that they are no different than you. They have dreams, they love their children, and life has cost them more than they could pay.
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Dates for the vision are June 18th thru the 25th, 2008 .

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Trip includes all your lodging, food, transportation, and a safari; we will take care of all the details, so all you have to do is focus on are the vision and the ministry.
We are looking for people to partner their churches, business, and families to our projects here, in Swaziland. People can join us as families, or representatives of a church body, bible study or a business.
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You can read Gary's blog or my blog for more information,
as well as email me if you have any questions:
lisa@theblacktribe.com .
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Nsoko Project Update from Traci on Vimeo.
Looking forward to seeing you in Swaziland!
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So does that cause something to stir in your heart? Perhaps you've always wanted to go to Africa but you've always just thought "no way could I do that". I thought the same thing last summer when someone suggested I go to Swaziland. But God provided the way. And if He wants you there, He'll provide your way as well. So before you say "no", why not at least say "yes" to praying about it. You just never know what our wildly imaginative God has in store for you!

Friday, March 28, 2008

EASTER COMMUNION SERMON ONLINE

As my regular Graceland visitors know, my husband preached on the significance of communion in the life of the believer and the church on Easter Sunday. He's such a gifted teacher. I get excited when I hear how God's using him in the lives of people. And I know that God has amazing things in his future. I'm so blessed to be his life partner and sharing this journey with him.

His sermon is now online if any of you would like to listen to it.

Click here for Are you hungry?

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P.S. The volume is messed up a bit so you might really have to crank it up to hear it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

FREE CONFESSIONS!

That's right...you can make as many juicy confessions as you want in the comments section and I won't charge you a cent. Okay, okay...that's not really what this is all about. A couple of weeks ago I read and reviewed Tom Davis' CONFESSIONS OF A GOOD, CHRISTIAN GUY. I'm ready now to bless someone else with this book. If you or someone you know would like to read it, here's your chance to do so for free!

Leave me a comment and I'll enter you in the drawing...just make sure that I have a way of contacting you either thru your blog link or leave me your email address.

If you mention this giveaway at your blog, leave me a separate comment letting me know and you'll be entered a second time in the drawing.
Oh! And hate to sound isolationist, but despite how much I love having readers from exotic locales, I'm going to have to limit the give-away to folks living in the good ole U.S. of A.

That's it! Pretty free and easy, don't 'cha think?
I'll hold the drawing 2 weeks from today.

OH! And if you didn't read the review when I first posted it, click here.

Monday, March 24, 2008


NOT MY HOME
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I've told you about my friend Christi Bowman before (see my previous post). She and her husband Kevin were with us on our Swaziland and since their return to the U.S., God has been doing some incredibly amazing things in their life...especially in Christi's. She's entered into a realm of relating to God that she had never even imagined she could have before. Every day God is revealing Himself to her as she reads His word, prays, and just goes about her regular ole mommy/wife routines.


Last week she posted this on her blog and I just had to share here at Graceland:


Many of you know that we are being called to Africa. We talk about it often. I like to talk about it like our affairs are in order. I am starting to live like it too. Not much about my place interests me, and when I organize and clean, I do it while deciding what we are going to give away. I have conversations with myself about what we will actually be able to take, and how we will get it over there. In my mind we are already there...and I have started living like it.


Today, I asked Kev if I could have his van to run an errand. His van has something that I can connect my MP3 player to, so that I can listen to it via the van speakers. He came over with the keys, and said "you know we could get one of those installed in your car". Immediately the idea was distasteful to me. I thought why would I bother...we are leaving...and we are not taking our cars...they are of no use to us there.


As I was driving, I thought how funny it was that I was making decisions in the present, based on my future home. And then I thought about how earth is really not my home at all...heaven is...and wouldn't it be nice, if I could make decisions that reflected that just as easily. I want all of my earthly possessions to be just as distasteful...why bother...they all mean nothing where I am going.

http://www.christibowman.com/2008/03/not-my-home.cfm

Saturday, March 22, 2008



AN EASTER GIFT TO MY READERS
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A couple of weeks ago, I was blessed to meet via the phone Stephanie Fisk. I had first learned of Stephanie through an article about an upcoming event she was coordinating and participating in with the purpose of raising the awareness of modern day slavery and also to get more people involved in fighting human trafficking through prayer and action. Stephanie is a young woman who has totally given her life over to pursuing God and His big, amazing dreams for her life. She inspires me and I think she'll inspire you to with her story...and her passion.

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Here is my gift to you this Easter weekend, an interview with a follower of the man whose life, death, and resurrection we honor on this special holiday.

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Stephanie, please give us a brief description of who you are (where you grew up, went to college, how long you've known the Lord, etc).
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My name is Stephanie Lynn Fisk. I’m a 26 year old native of Milford, IA. I grew up in a small, rural farming town of around 2,000 people. I have a sister, Tiffany, who is three years younger than me. We were both blessed with amazing parents, Gary and Kathy.
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After high school, I attended Wartburg College in Waverly, IA where I majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry and Spanish. My original plan of med school eventually switched to the Peace Corps. But Lord had something else in mind altogether.
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I grew up in a Christian home, but didn’t make my faith mine until sophomore year of college. After my first few mission trips (Harrisburg, Pa; Haiti; San Antonio, TX) I became to realize that my faith was not meant to remain silent, but to be lived out in love and service to those around me. Since then, my heart has been set on reaching out to the ‘marginalized’ – both within the US and abroad.
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After graduating from college, you and your friends did something pretty unique for young women your age, would you please tell us about that?
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After graduation, three of my college friends and myself headed out on the open road in search of ‘life’. For one year we traveled around the US in a 15 passenger van, and volunteered for one week in each of the continental United States. Each week we connected with local service ministries – soup kitchens, homeless shelters, children’s homes, etc - throughout the country (inner city, rural, small town, Appalachia, Indian Reservations). We also shared this experience with congregations, encouraging them to get out in their own community to serve their ‘neighbors’.
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This ‘road trip’ turned in to a non-profit called Latreia. Latreia is a Greek word that comes from Romans 12:1 – it means ‘to live a lifestyle of worship through service’. Currently, Latreia hosts short-term mission trips for youth and college groups in St. Paul/Mpls, MN.
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When and how did you sense that God was first leading you into overseas missions?
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After my first service trip to Harrisburg, PA I knew that I would somehow be involved in missions. But it wasn’t until after my international experiences to Mexico, Haiti and Guyana that I found out that my heart truly lied abroad. After spending time with the people in developing countries, Jesus and his message of serving the least of these came alive…I was also beginning to come alive as passions and desires began to surface and reach the needs of the world.
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It was my senior year of college that I audibly heard the Lord’s voice say "Go" in response to a call for oversees missions. I was overcome with the Holy Spirit and knew from that point on I was a ‘sent one’. After spending 2 years of being involved in missions domestically, I began to feel the call to head oversees. The Lord actually gave me a vision of traveling to 7 continents in 7 months…which eventually lead me to the World Race.
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Please give us an overview of Adventures in Missions, particularly the World Race.
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Adventures in Missions is a non-profit, Christian organization based out of Gainesville, Georgia. Through both domestic and international short-term mission trips (1 week-1 year), they aim to raise up a generation of radical disciples who are committed to ‘being the church’ in a hurting world…ie – loving the orphan, widow, sick, poor, etc.
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The World Race is one of their newer programs based off Matt. 10. Participants travel to 11 countries in 11 month sharing the love of Jesus Christ as they go. A life of abandonment leads to a radical faith journey as individuals discover more about their identity in Christ and their role in the Kingdom. For one year, participants live in community while serving the poorest of the poor and connecting with the body throughout the nations. http://www.theworldrace.org/
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Can you please tell us about your personal World Race experience? Where you went, some highlights of what you did?
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I left on the World Race in Jan ’07. We started off in Central/South America (Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru and Argentina). While in these countries we partnered with local churches. This included everything from preaching, teaching, praying with people throughout the neighborhoods, loving the ‘poorest of the poor’ in the city dump, planting a sister church in the Andes and serving in a soup kitchen in Buenos Aires.
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Our next stop was Africa – Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa. Here we were greatly encouraged by the body and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. While in refugee camps we saw the blind see and the deaf hear. We had ample opportunities to love on orphans everyday and, unfortunately, to see first hand the devastating effect AIDS is having on entire nations.
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The last 4 months were spent in Asia – Thailand, Cambodia and China. In Bangkok, we worked alongside organizations that reach out to young women who are caught in a life of prostitution. While in Cambodia, we partnered with a local church and orphanage. In China, we entered as foreign exchange students and had the opportunity to disciple college students through teaching English. In these countries, we witnessed the effect of religious and ethnic genocide – in some areas, it is still happening today.
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As a result of your World Race experience, I know you have a passion for fighting against human trafficking. What actions do you have planned at this time related to this crucial issue?
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While in South East Asia, I came face to face with the harsh reality of forced prostitution and human trafficking. Mind-blowing statistics became faces and names. After returning to the states, I knew that I had to do something about this. So, I began researching and found out that 27 million people live ‘enslaved today as bonded/domestic laborers, sex slaves or child soldiers.
Because this number is mind numbing, I focus on the one. I focus on Chantrea – the 12 year-old orphan in Phnom Phen, or Benz – the 26 year-old prostitute in Bangkok.
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In attempt to raise awareness on the modern-day slave trade and to motivate the body to action, a few of my buddies and myself are hosting a bike-a-thon called Team Up, Gear Up: Biking against Human Trafficking. From March 24-31 we are biking from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon and back again. The 450 mile ride will be broken in half with a 20 mile hike (in the Canyon) in between. Everyone is invited to join us.
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In relation to the bike ride, we have been sending out press releases and sharing with organization/colleges and on radio shows. I have also been blogging about current events related to this critical issue. (http://www.stephaniefisk.theworldrace.org/)
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For folks who can not participate in BIKING AGAINST TRAFFICKING, what are some other ways that they can be involved in working to abolish human trafficking?
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First and foremost, get informed and inform others. Join the movement and use your gifts to abolish slavery. This can include anything from biking to painting to campaigning. Visit our Biking against Human Trafficking site (www.freewebs.com/baht) for resources.
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Also, please join us from March 23-31 at 8pm as we are hosting nightly nation-wide prayer calls. So wherever you are, you can participate! Even if you are not able to join us physically on the bike ride, you can join with us in prayer. Each night of the ride we are featuring a guest speaker who is currently combating human trafficking. Please visit the above website for a list of speakers. To call in dial 1-218-486-1600 followed by the access code 472085#.
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What advice do you have for people who feel a particular passion for a certain area of ministry?
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Pursue your passions. Yes, it will include risk, abandon and courage; but you will never know what it means to live fully alive until you are living the life the Lord created you to live. He created you with a unique purpose. Jump in feet first and commit yourself to prayer. My mentor once told me, "You have to be moving before the Lord can direct your steps."
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Do not forget that your ability to love those around you flows from your ability to be loved. Do not let your ministry become more important that your relationship with the Lord. Intimacy unto Harvest. When your heart, mind, soul and strength is focus on your Maker and Provider you will live each day to the fullest.
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In closing, if you could tell people one thing that you wish everyone knew about God and being in a relationship with Him, what would it be?
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Like I said above, "Intimacy unto Harvest". Our identity does not come from what we do, but what we do (role in the kingdom) comes from our identity in Christ. Our identity can only come from a living, breathing relationship with the Lord. If we seek out our identity in anything else – our friends, our job, our ‘goodness’, our looks – it will lead us down a slippery slope. True joy is found in Christ alone. This is key to walking out our God-given destiny and passions. Live simply. Live in faith. Live in Love.
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PRAYER REQUEST

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Easter weekend. Today the kids and I decorated eggs while hubby prepared a sermon.

Yep, he is preaching this weekend...at our church's Easter morning service! Please be praying for him and for the congregation tomorrow. Pray that he'll speak the words of God and that people will respond and grow. He's preaching on the Lord's Supper and its relation to Easter and why we need it regularly...part of a balanced spiritual diet.

Thanks and hope your day tomorrow is a blessed one,
Elysa

Friday, March 21, 2008

A TRULY GOOD FRIDAY

I have lots of good Fridays...days that I spend with my kids doing fun things, days spent with my friends chatting at the park, days I get to go on dates with my hubby. But today is an especially good Friday. Because on this day every year, a day is set aside that is truly good not because of things we might do, but of something done us.

On this day, we who are followers of Jesus, remember the ultimate act of love.

John 16-18: "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

I thank God that I'm now clean. I'm free. I can be in a right relationship with the being who is not only the creator of the entire universe, but the precious Father who loves me. And because of that, I can live a life of peace, hope, and joy....all because of amazing grace.


See grace isn't just something we mumble over our plates before we eat. Grace is more than just the smooth way ballerinas dance. The grace I'm talking about God's unmerited favor. While we were yet sinners...while we were liars, manipulators, cheaters, addicts, abusers, and all other manners of rotteness, God still loved us. And after we accept His precious gift of redemption, of being made new, He continues to daily fill our lives with beautiful, loving gifts that we in no way deserve.


I don't deserve His goodness. If you could see the real me you'd see how much I don't deserve His unconditional love, audacious acceptance, and untold blessings. But He loves me anyway...simply because I'm His.


My prayer this Good Friday is that if you already know His grace and salvation that you'll grow deeper in love with Him.

And my prayer for you this Good Friday if you aren't in relationship with Him yet is that you'll turn to Him. He loves you so much. He is your Father and you are His child. He wants to share all He is and has with you....not because you're good, not because you can work hard to earn it, but just because He chooses to love you and make you His beloved one.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

IGNORANCE IS BLISS

This year we started a new homeschool science curriculum. Daughters A & B have really enjoyed the frequent experiments and have both told me how much they like the Apologia curriculum. But now their first test looms large and they've begun to work through the study guide. This endeavor has not added to B's affection towards the curriculum. In fact, she is detesting the test preparation so intensely that she scribbled off this poem...a poem ode to science.

SCIENCE

What is it?

Why do we need it?

Don't you think we would be so better off without it?

Rules and schools are tools for fools---
I don't give two mules for school!

As I sit there reading of the Big Bang,

I ask myself, "when will I use this?" and "what the heck?!?"

Down with Science!

I will not stand for this!

After all, ignorance is bliss.

---B.J.M., Age 12, 7th Grade

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

PAINFULLY HONEST BUT INFUSED WITH HEALING GRACE

My husband and I just finished reading CONFESSIONS OF A GOOD CHRISTIAN GUY by Tom Davis last week. Tom is the president of CHILDREN'S HOPECHEST, a ministry to orphans primarily in Russia and Swaziland.

Underneath the title of the book's cover are the words, "the secrets men keep and the grace that saves them". Tom's premise is that all men, even "good, Christian" ones, struggle with hard life issues. Some of these issues are more subtle such as pride and discouragement. Others are downright destructive such as alcoholism and drug addiction. Unfortunately, in the American church culture, honesty about struggles is not always encouraged. Too many men walk around wearing masks in fear that if anyone ever sees the "real" person behind the "good Christian" mask, that they will be rejected. Tom challenges men, in part by telling his own not-so-good story, to come clean. To take off the masks, admit their need for change and help, and trust God to heal and grow them through His unfailing love, mercy, and grace.

Here's an excerpt from the book:

We will always have areas of deadwood in our lives. We will always be called to rip away the falsely righteous facades that tempt us and to talk honestly about what's truly happening in our lives. Sin flourishes whereever there are secrets. Hope, strength and an abundant life are found when grace is received and those secrets are torn away.

Hopefully our struggles dinimish as we grow to be more like Christ---our battles with sin become less frequent as we learn to live victoriously. But I don't think we ever fully arrive at our destination, this side of heaven. That's what grace is always about. We alwys need it. And it's always available to us. That's the message of this book. Grace is truly amazing. We need it like we need our next breath.

Tammy Maltby, author of CONFESSIONS OF A GOOD CHRISTIAN GIRL, has co-authored the book with Tom. Each chapter, dealing with a different sin area, is followed by Tammy's take on how people (such as wives or friends) can minister to the man in their life who is dealing with abuse, addiction to pornography, anger, etc. This aspect makes the book not just a book for men, but for the women in their lives as well.

As my husband Jim said, Tom's book is well-written and very honest, sometimes painfully so. Sadly, my husband says that in his experience, most churches don't seem to foster the kind of relationships that encourage total transparency, accountability, and recovery. Perhaps CONFESSIONS will motivate many out there to make the changes needed to indeed develop safe, supportive environments within the church where these desperately needed male friendships can happen.

For as James 6:16 says:

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

Monday, March 17, 2008




HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!
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Around here, we love St. Patrick's Day. His willingness to give it all in order to follow God's plan for his life is of epic proportions. A shallow, party-boy growing up, after being captured by pirates and spending years as a slave in Ireland, he escaped through God's miraculous intervention only to return years later to preach the good news of God's mercy and salvation to Ireland. It was while he was a captive in Ireland that he learned to love God and it was as a messenger for God back in Ireland that he led untold numbers to also love God.

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Patrick was a man who didn't put limits on God or what God could and would do through his life. He believed in God's bigness and God's ability to accomplish anything through him that God led him to do. I want to have that kind of faith. I want to be willing to do whatever God calls me to do in this life...even if in my eyes it seems impossible. On my own strength and through my own abilities, many things are impossible. But through Christ I can do all things. He is a big, big God and nothing is too difficult for Him! Even using a sinful creature like me.
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I am thankful for the example of St. Patrick and we take this time to celebrate not only his life, but the God who made him and used him mightily.
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Today we'll be celebrating this day by:
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  • Eating special foods including green oatmeal for breakfast, potato soup and shamrock cookies for lunch, and corned beef w/ sauerkraut sandwiches with potato oven fries for supper.
  • Wearing green clothes.
  • Listening to Irish music.
  • Watching VeggieTales SUMO OF THE OPERA which includes a short segment telling the story of St. Patrick.
  • Sending ecards to my lives-in-Ireland friend Ruth.
  • Writing in homeschool journals about St. Patrick and his special day.
  • Drawing shamrocks and telling the story of how Patrick used the clover to teach the Irish about the Holy Trinity.
  • Sending St. Patrick's Day Super-pokes friends at facebook.

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May you and yours have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day and be inspired to live out the big dreams that God has for your life...just like Patrick did hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Truly one person can change the world.

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P.S. I just remembered that last year I posted a great and VERY EASY recipe for an Irish bread perfect for St. Patrick's Day. Here's the link if you're interested.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

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FEELING CLAUSTROPHOBIC
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I've told you about my friend Kevin Bowman in a previous blog post. And I mentioned his wife Christi . She was my main seatmate as we bounced and lurched and swerved along dirt roads as well as fast highways in Southern Africa. We laughed, we talked, we shared our hearts. And I was blessed to be there as God opened her eyes up to so many, many things on that journey to Swaziland. Like me, Christi and Kevin are struggling. They are struggling to reconcile what they saw in Africa with their lives back here in America. They are struggling to become what God wants them to be in order to fulfill His plans for their lives...plans that probably include living in Swaziland one day.
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Christi has recently started blogging about her spiritual journey. She has kindly consented to me sharing an excerpt of one of her posts here:
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I'm having a rough day today. I feel overwhelmed. I am not the same person I used to be...I am changing...being renewed. The new me, though, continues to live on, at least for a while, in the same space as the old me...and I am feeling claustrophobic. The things that used to be important just aren't anymore. I try to do some general house cleaning, and I find myself just wanting to give it all away. The more I exist in what I have, the more it sickens me. I want so badly to put the house on the market, and just walk away.
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To read the rest of Christi's post, click here. Prepare to be challenged.
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And please pray for them both.
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Saturday, March 15, 2008


DEPENDENCE UPON HIS GRACE

"God's grace is not easily reconciled to our math, but that does not diminish its beauty or scope. When we serve our Lord out of true and full thanksgiving for his defeat of the guilt and power of our sin, we are grateful not merely for his benevolently receiving our works but for his enabling of us to do what he will ultimately reward. This side of heaven, we will never logically resolve the tension between human responsibility and divine provision in sanctification. But as we learn to acknowledge that God must provide what we need to please him, the result will be our full dependence upon his grace. While our logic may not be satisfied in this dependence, it is the only place where the heart conscious of its humanity can find rest."

Bryan Chapell, Holiness by Grace

Friday, March 14, 2008

WHAT A FORETASTE
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Lisa Samson is an incredible writer. Her works introduce me to people, who though they dwell in the pages of fictional books, are real...and their stories are true....true stories filled with eternal and universal truths.
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EMBRACE ME is Lisa's latest release. Though the library has ordered it, I just couldn't wait this time around. I've known Lisa through her writing for years, but after traveling with her to Swaziland in January, I know her through her life as well. And her every day living is as spiritually rich and delightfully authentic as her books. So after speeding through her TIGER LILLIE earlier this week, and went to our local Christian bookstore and plopped down my birthday gift certificate and a few one dollar bills and purchased EMBRACE ME.
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I'm only a few pages into it, but its already pulling me as all her others have done. In fact this one pulled me in before I even started the first chapter. As I turned to the beginning, I read the quote Lisa had placed at the beginning of the book:
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"To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless."
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---G.K. Chesterton
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And to quote another famous wordsmith, what a foretaste of glory divine!
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

THROWING PENNIES AT OWLS
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Yesterday, the kids and I loaded up in our 15 passenger van and roadtripped to Columbus to Mississippi University for Women and its Baptist Student Union. It was there, over 20 years ago, that God started bringing about the reality of the dream that had been birthed in me as a child. You see, when other girls were daydreaming about being cheerleaders or spies, I was looking at the mail order catalogs and picking out apparel for the orphans that I would one day take care of. Way back then, God was turning my heart toward those special ones that I would one day love in Swaziland. I believe firmly that God's spirit was actively involved in those daydreams.
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I also remember that around the time I was 9 or 10, a woman who was a missionary to the Choctaw Nation here in Mississippi came and spoke to the congregation at First Baptist Crystal Springs about her ministry. And at the end of the service, as we sang...
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"Here is my life, I want to live it;
Here is my life,
I want to give it serving my fellow man,
Doing the will of God;
Here is my life,
Here is my life,
Here is my life."
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And as my childish voice sang out the words, my heart also sang them as I wept and made a commitment to the Lord.
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Once I enrolled at MUW, I became very involved in the Baptist Student Union. Nancy Aulds, the director, was instrumental in directing my steps towards overseas ministry. She was the one who first encouraged me to go to Israel as a summer missionary and then the next year, she was there as God led me to Swaziland, the place with the people who have absolutely stolen my heart.
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And because of the huge role that BSU played in those formative early adult years of my life, it was a tremendous blessing to be able to return there yesterday and hopefully encourage others to give God their whole life...not just parts of it...but to totally and radically sell out for Him. Because whether its as an accountant living in a sleepy Mississippi town or as a nurse fighting diseases in Swaziland, God has HUGE dreams. And when we totally turn over every area of our life to Him, we'll find joy and fulfillment more increadible than we could have imagined. Because as I've heard Pastor Erwan McManus say, as big as our imaginations are, God's is even bigger.
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When we completely turn our lives---the gifts, time, skills, resources, and passions that He has given us---over to Him, He'll do amazing things in the world with us. What an honor and thrill it is to know that the creator of the universe, the one who can do anything with just a spoken word, chooses to use us, chooses to use me, despite the sins, issues, and hurts.
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Too often as adults, we let past failures or the "realities" of life keep us from really believing that God wants to do something fantastic with us. My children reminded me yesterday of an important Kingdom principle....the one that talks about how we must become like little children. After I spoke at the BSU about our trip to Swaziland and challenged the group to follow God's dreams for their lives no matter the cost, we went walking around campus with one of my Troubadour Social Club sisters, Katie. MUW is an architectural and botanical treasure. The children had a fun time climbing the chapel's spiral staircase, splashing in the fountains, seeing my old college dorm, exploring an art gallery, and peering through the windows of historic buildings. At one point, we told them about a school tradition that involves throwing pennies at an owl sculpture sitting atop Orr Chapel. The owl must be about 30 feet above the ground but this did not stop my children. It didn't matter that 4 year old little T's penny only flew about 4 feet above his head, he kept trying. And though none of them managed to get their pennies anywhere near the stoic old owl, they had a great time in trying and then had fun searching for lost coins among the bushes at the base of the building.
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And isn't that how it should be?
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We won't always achieve every goal we set, but the fear of failure shouldn't stop us from trying...from giving it our all. Because sometimes unimagined blessings come from simply attempting, and many times, though it hurts terribly at the time, some of life's richest blessings come about as a result of our failures and defeats. For God, with His almighty power and creativity, can bring good even from bad. Romans 8:28 promises us that ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The outcome is not OUR responsibility...only the obedience. And I'm finding, that even my ability to obey Him comes from Him.
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So dream big, dream GOD'S BIG DREAMS---and don't be afraid to throw pennies at owls.
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P.S. My 12 year old daughter says that the next time we go, she's going to bring a slingshot to hit that owl! That girl is going to do amazing things for God's kingdom.




Wednesday, March 12, 2008

PLEASE PRAY FOR ME TODAY

I'll be visiting my old college Baptist Student Union today and speaking about our recent trip to Swaziland and living a life sold out to God...living His dreams no matter the cost. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated. I don't want to just give a fact report, I want to give a life challenge that will motivate them to live BIG for God and the least of these.

Thanks in advance,
Elysa

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

MORE TEARS

Tomorrow I will share publically for the first time about our recent trip to Swaziland. As I search online regarding the lives of heroes of the faith while preparing what I'll say, I find myself tearing up at their audacity and sacrifice. I wanted to share some of the quotes here.

"Not called!" did you say? "Not heard the call," I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father's house and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters not to come there. And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.

William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army

"He must increase, but I must decrease."

John the Baptist

"If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him."

C.T. Studd

"What are we here for, to have a good time with Christians or to save sinners?"

Malla Moe

"The command has been to "go," but we have stayed - in body, gifts, prayer and influence. He has asked us to be witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth…But 99% of Christians have kept puttering around in the homeland."

Robert Savage

"While vast continents are shrouded in darkness…the burden of proof lies upon you to show that the circumstances in which God has placed you were meant by God to keep you out of the foreign mission field."

Ion Keith-Falconer

"And people who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives…and when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted."
Nate Saint

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Jim Elliot

"A tiny group of believers who have the gospel keep mumbling it over and over to themselves. Meanwhile, millions who have never heard it once fall into the flames of eternal hell without ever hearing the salvation story."

K.P. Yohannan

"Do not think me mad. It is not to make money that I believe a Christian should live. The noblest thing a man can do is, just humbly to receive, and then go amongst others and give."

David Livingstone

"The more obstacles you have, the more opportunities there are for God to do something."

Clarence W. Jones

"Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God."

William Carey

"God's part is to put forth power; our part is to put forth faith."

Andrew A. Bonar

"It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home."

J. Hudson Taylor

And to end with this:

While serving in India, Amy [Carmichael] received a letter from a young lady who was considering life as a missionary, She asked Amy, "What is missionary life like?" Amy wrote back saying simply, "Missionary life is simply a chance to die."

"Here am I. Send me."

Isaiah

...and also, Elysa.

WANNA HEAR THE WHOLE THING?

Yesterday I blogged about Seth Barnes and his challenge to dream BIG! If you want to listen to his talk he gave in Chicago on Sunday, click here.

To die happy I need to:
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1. Dream God's dreams...embrace God's dreams for my life.
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2. Push past the pain that can make it impossible to fully live out God's dreams and experience true joy.
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3. You gotta bet BIG on your dreams---take the risk!
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So who wants to dream along with me? I'm praying that I will let nothing stop me from living out His plans for my life. I'm praying that He will break my heart in the ways that it needs to be broken.
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Click here for the video Seth mentioned in his talk.
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Monday, March 10, 2008

CAN YOU DIE HAPPY?
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God is obviously trying to tell me something. Last night I posted about our pastor's recent sermons. And then this a.m., I visit one of my new favorite blogs and found that Seth Barnes , of Adventures in Missions, spoke on the same subject yesterday morning. Two different men in two different states who don't even know each other, but definitely know the same God. I believe that God takes His church through different lessons. For the last 10 years or so, it seemed like every where I turned I was hearing the message of God's radical grace. Christians from all sorts of the faith spectrum were getting turned on to God's undeserved love and acceptance and it was setting them free.

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Now it seems like He's doing a new waking up...this time I believe that He's telling us to get radical with our walk and do what is needed to help the least of these. "Safe" Christianity is not going to provide the answers to today's generation and today's problems. We're going to have to get our hands dirty and be willing to get out of our comfort zone if we're going to do the job we as a church are called to do...visit the sick and imprisoned, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, satisfy the thirsty....you know, doing pure religion which is described in the Bible as caring for the orphans and widows.
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Seeing all the pain and poverty in the world can be overwhelming. The HUGE problems can make us feel so inadequate that we just give up too often before even starting. But God doesn't want us to rescue the whole world. He's got a special plan using our special gifts, skills, resources, and passions in a special way. He has dreams for us.

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Here's what Seth Barnes has to say on the subject:
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"[Yesterday] I spoke on the subject, "Can You Die Happy?" And it leads me to ask you, my blog readers, what is your dream? In other words, what will it take for you to die happy? Maybe you have a dream of helping orphans somewhere in the world. Maybe you want to help your church address the AIDS crisis in Africa. Maybe you have a dream of living in a community in the city and touching the homeless. We have to do our dreams or at least give them our best shot to fulfill our purpose. Doing so ties into God's ultimate global end-game."
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To read the rest of his blog post, go to What is God's Dream for the World?
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And then ask yourself as I'm asking myself, am I really living for something bigger than myself? Am I really living, not the "American dream" of financial prosperity and security, but the dream of God's heart...bringing spiritual prosperity and the security of God's grace and unconditional love to those God's calling me to live for...and even to die for.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

IN A VALLEY?
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Our pastor, Freddie Brown, has been preaching powerful sermons the last few weeks. And they've been so on target with what God has been speaking to my heart about. The last couple of weeks he centered in on Moses and that God did not forget him nor the plans he had for him even when Moses seemed to be forgotten at the backside of the desert tending his father-in-law's sheep. Today he spoke about David and Gideon---two ordinary young men who in the world's eyes didn't have that much to offer. But by saying "yes" to God and His purpose, changed the world around them.
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Here are some of the highlights from the sermon that stood out to me:
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"For every valley there is a cause.
For every cause there is a champion.
For every champion there is a giant.
For every giant there is a stone."
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Jeremiah 29:11 tells us about God's plans for our lives. And Brother Freddie reminded us that "you will never be fully satisfied or completely successful until you are living the dream that God has prepared for you."
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He quoted from Bruce Wilkerson with this---"The reason people wish they were someone else is because they are not being who God created them to be."
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And lastly, "when the potter looks at a lump of clay, He doesn't see the clay, He sees the work of art that is in it."
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No matter your scars, no matter your sins, no matter your past, no matter your lack, God values you. He loves you. He wants to not only be in relationship with you and grow you in the likeness of His son, but He desires to use you, warts and all, to bring light into the darkness. He knows you're going to fail. But He will never fail. He will always be there for you.
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You might be in a valley right now. You might feel forgotten, insignificant, or that you've messed up so bad there's no hope that you can ever do anything worthy. That's a lie from the pit of hell and it smells like smoke.
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Its never too late to live for God. Its never too late to live for others. We all have passions...issues that excite us or perhaps even break out hearts. Maybe its the homeless or fatherless boys or lonely nursing home residents or autistic children and their parents. Whatever it is that you are drawn to, God will use you to be a champion for that cause. And when you face the giants that want to defeat you...and you WILL face giants...know that GOD will give you the stone needed to not only survive the conflict, but be the victor.
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To listen to Freddie Brown's series, go to Restoration Church's website and click on the SEND THE FIRE sermons.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


AM I WILLING?
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"Are we willing to surrender our grasp on all that we possess, our desires, and everything else in our lives? Are we ready to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ?"
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Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Friday, March 07, 2008

ABUNDANT LIFE
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One of the best things about our recent trip to Swaziland was the group of folks we traveled with. We were a varied bunch...men and women, gray-hairs and teens, Catholics and Evangelicals, Southerners and Yankees, Republicans and Democrats, and while most of us were Americans, we even had a few Canadians thrown into the mix. Though we had our differences, we were united by our love for God and our desire to make a difference in the lives of the people we met in Africa. Kevin and Christi Bowman were my frequent seatmates on our treks across Southern Africa. Those two blessed me with laughter and great conversations. They are having their lives radically transformed as they seek to be authentic followers of Jesus Christ and seek God's direction for their journey. Besides having great hair, Kevin is also gifted communicator. He recently wrote about abundant living at his website, SEPARATE AND APART, and graciously agreed to let me share his blog post here at Graceland.

May you be encouraged to settle for nothing less than HIS abundant life.

"He found that he was often angry...that they were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them." -Lois Lowry
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In Lois Lowry's "the Giver" Jonas learns the truth of the world that everyone around him has given up in order to live in the comfort of their mundane lives. The people have given up all memory for the familiarity of a sterile prosaic monotony. There is no war, or hunger, or poverty; for this there is no color, no creativity, and no dreams. Jonas as he discovers the true joy of a life filled with color and promise is forced to flee the flat routine of his worlds uneventful utopia.
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The Giver has been one of my favorite books since I first read it. Other books have come and went, but The Giver has maintained it's secure hold as my top fiction title. I am wild at heart spontaneous dreamer and a free spirited radical. I relate the awkward tension between Jonas' world and my own.
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My seditious temperament often finds itself deeply pleased by the revolutionary subversion in the interactions between Jesus and his audience. Jesus wasn't safe to invite to a dinner party. I LOVE THAT!!!!
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In my personal "pledge of allegiance" John 10:10 Christ contrast his abundant life promise to that of a thief. The thief wants to steal, kill, and destroy. The contrast to the opulence of Christ is not average mediocrity, it is barren poverty.
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I am a communicator and yet it frustrates me that so many of the people of God are willing to accept the dearth of complacency despite it's negative effects on their marriages, their children, and their own peace while I am unable to herald a commission to change. Exasperation peaks within me as I look at the requiem of our cars, homes, clothing, and entertainment realizing the routine pursuit of these things are cancerous to us.
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I will step off my soap box, put away my bullhorn and "end is near" sign and admit that I need a lot more abundant life too. I am amazed at how opposite the values, challenges, and activities of Jesus are from our "norm." I want to be obsessed with His insurgence to a greater measure than I have sought the vacancy of this world's ways. I want abundant life! Here I Am Lord Send Me!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

HEART BREAKING NEWS



I've just found out that the little Swazi baby that I blogged about several days ago has died. He had been lovingly cared for by the World Racers and finally had to be admitted into the hospital to treat pneumonia and malnutrition. You can read about the situation at Traci VanSumeren and Megan Dunegan's blogs.



Please be in prayer for all those who mourn over the loss of this precious baby boy. Pray for his siblings as their mother, short of a miracle, will soon follow her baby and leave this fallen world. Baby Moses has his ultimate healing now. His mother will also receive hers. But the remaining children will face years of wounds here on this earth that only God's love and power can heal up.



Lord have mercy.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

FIGHTING MODERN DAY SLAVERY

After just posting yesterday's entry dealing with slavery, I thought it pretty timely that this morning I opened Outlook Express and found this sent to me from Jeff Goins at WRECKED FOR THE ORDINARY:

"It is estimated that nearly 27 million individuals are enslaved around the globe today. Unfortunately, slavery has not disappeared, but is a thriving 30 billion dollar industry. Vulnerable individuals, otherwise known as "the disposable people", are often tricked into becoming sex slaves, domestic or bonded servants, or child soldiers.

Many are trafficked across borders and live in a state of fear and hopelessness. Not only is this taking place in developing countries, but right here in our own back yard. The United States not only fuels the rising demand of this industry, but aids in supplying the insatiable appetite abroad.

The last week in March, a group of individuals will be biking their way from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon and back again. This eight-day, 450-mile round-trip bike ride will also include a 20-mile hike through the Canyon itself.

The purpose of the journey is found beyond the bikers' personal gain - it lies in furthering the Kingdom of God. The goal: to raise awareness about Modern Day Slavery that will motivate a generation to action. It's a call for the body to step up and fight for justice. Please join us the week of March 23rd in the fight for justice."

Read the rest of the article Biking Against Human Trafficking by Stephanie Fisk at:

//www.wreckedfortheordinary.com/category.asp?category=adventure&filename=biking-against-human-trafficking

So many of us, myself included, thought that slavery (except in rare cases) was abolished a long, long time ago. Unfortunately its just not true. What will OUR generation do to fight this atrocity? Will we be the ones who not only say "no one should should have to live this way" but will we also be the ones that do the actions necessary to set the captives free?
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Tuesday, March 04, 2008


A YEAR OF WAKING, SHAKING, and GOING!
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It was on my last birthday that God used a very special movie to start doing something new in our family. That wake up call was the start of what eventually led to the girls and me going to Swaziland and us now saying, "Here we are, use us...no matter the cost."
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In honor of this anniversary, I wanted to repost what I blogged about on March 5, 2007:
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AMAZING GRACE movie, my birthday, and GOD!
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"I've been wanting to fill y'all in on the details about my 41st bday on. Its just that the days have been so full and by the time I've gotten the wee ones into bed I've been plumb (or is that plum?) wore out. Also, are any of you like this----when something really major happens you find it hard to concisely write it down so you just keep putting it off? That's been me.
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So where to start...well, for the most part it was just a nice, simple bday day. The morning was spent at our last Upward Basketball games and the evening was spent at the close-of-the-season prgm. For breakfast we had chocolate covered and blueberry cake donuts. And lunch was Corky's BBQ sandwiches with homemade fixings. The kids gave me sweet gifts and dh gave me money to go clothes shopping. Several friends (including FIAR gals) and family members called, sent packages, ecards, and snail mail greetings. We ended the night with my birthday cake, a BOSTON CREAM CAKE! How could I resist choosing THAT when I now associate this dessert with not only my wonderful time in Mass. with Denise, but also with my FIAR silly gal-pals and my FIAR boards avatar pic!
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But sandwiched between those events was what made my bday truly AMAZING!
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To celebrate my 41st bday, we took the 4 oldest kids to see the AMAZING GRACE movie. You know you're in trouble when you start tearing up before the first scene has even started!The movie was wonderful. It was such an inspiring story...so well done and such an awesome example of how God uses His people for very special purposes...in this case, to abolish slavery in the western world. When the movie ended and I was spending some alone time with God in the powder room, I said to God..."God, this is a great story. But it took place in the 1700's and slavery is now outlawed here in America. What do you want this story to say to me NOW here in THIS culture?" And I heard God's answer so clearly. He spoke to me about slavery that still exists here in America...spiritual slavery...slavery to sin and poverty. He reminded me that so many are enslaved to addictions and various sin issues. That others are living in poverty so awful that its a trap they can't escape from. Many of these walked into these prisons and shackles by their own choice, but are now desperate to be set free but can't on their own. Others, such as children of abusive parents, are enslaved due to circumstances that they have no control over.God said to me, what are YOU going to do to fight against THIS slavery here in your world?
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WOW!
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That hit me hard. I got in the van and started asking the kids what they got out of the movie...after all, I'm a homeschool mom. We just can't GO to a movie, but we have to discuss it and analyze it afterwards. Well then I started sharing and as soon as I started telling them what I had heard from God, I started weeping (not dainty crying, either) and "preaching". I poured my heart and soul out to my family.
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My husband and I have been feeling for the last couple of weeks that God is telling us its time to move into a new area of ministry. We've been doing many good things, but He's got something better. And He's calling us to make sacrifices, to be willing to give up some of these "good" things to do the BEST things He has planned for us, and He wants us out of our comfort zone! He's going to lead us into a new mnistry and one to people who we wouldn't normally come into contact with on a regular basis.
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The next morning was church. We go to a very informal church with a contemporary, charismatic style of worship service. As we were singing the praise choruses, I was overwhelmed with love of God and passion for Him and what He is doing in our lives. I was pouring my emotions out into my worship...it WAS worship and it was incredible. Then, near the end of that section of the service, our worship leader didn't just end it. He was quietly leading us to just pray or sing quietly and he just kept strumming his guitar as though he were waiting for God to do something.
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Well God did! He gave me a BIG nudge to get down front and share with the congregation what God was showing me and challenge THEM to set the captives free! We are fairly new to this church and I've not gone down front to give a "word" from the Lord in 8 or 9 years. This is NOT a regular thing for me. But I went down and shared briefly with the pastor and he got me up front with the mike. As I shared, I again started weeping. The Holy Spirit was so evident I just couldn't hold back my passion. I encouraged those who were Christians to get out of their comfort zone and reach out to those around them who were slaves to sin...show them that JESUS will set them free, He will take off their shackles. And then I challenged those enslaved to allow Jesus to free them from their sins, their addictions, whatever it was that was making them a slave.
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Some people were weeping, others raising hands, "amening" the word, etc. When I ended dh and I immediately had to leave the service as I had to take him to the airport for a business trip. We discussed what God had done and what He was telling us but after I dropped off dh and was on my way back to the church, I started having doubts. I started thinking that I had messed up. Offended people. Said things our new pastor wouldn't like. That I might have shared something only meant for dh and I, etc. I walked into the service, sat on the very back row in the seat closest to the door as the sermon was still going on. Our pastor immediately said, "Elysa, I know you had to leave to take Jim to the airport, but I wanted to just confirm that what you said was from God. Today's sermon is on getting out of your comfort zone." WOW! Here I was so overcome with doubts and insecurities and God in his sweet love and concern for me used my dear pastor to immediately aleviate my fears and confirm that I had INDEED heard from Him. In fact, I was told later that when the power point notes popped up on the overhead, the title had "Get out of your comfort zone" in it! And I had no idea. I was clueless that the word I was given to share, was the perfect God-spoken lead in to Brother Freddy's sermon.
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I was also told later that the word ministered to many including one of my dear friend's grown sons who has been rebelling against God for years. He and his friend asked for prayer and confessed that they needed deliverance from their enslavement yesterday. God is truly AMAZING!!!! Its amazing to me that He would use such a self-centered, recovering pharisee as myself to set the captives free. Its amazing to me that He would care enough to give me immediate confirmation. Its amazing to me that He wants to continue to use me and my family to share His message of love, hope, grace, and freedom. Its amazing to me that God has not only used me in such an exciting way, but that I'm being blessed beyond belief in the process.
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God is good ALL the time, but sometimes that reality is SO apparent that I'm just overwhelmed.
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This 41st birthday may not have been the biggest party day of my life, but I can honestly say it was the biggest GOD-filled birthday of my entire life.
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Thanks for letting me share my story.
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And please, if you are one of those captives hungering to be free, don't stay in those shackles!!!!! Christ has come to set the captives free! He wants to release you from all that holds you back from living in His amazing grace and abundant love."
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I praise God for what He showed us this last year and that He has opened our eyes to a lot of hard truths...including that physical slavery DOES still exist in today's world. He also made sure I got educated about the HIV/AIDS crisis going on in Africa. Its not been easy at times. I would be lying if I said it didn't hurt and wasn't sometimes downright frightening, but I'm so thankful. I'm thankful for Him choosing to use us despite our faults and sins and failings. His grace is truly amazing.
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Monday, March 03, 2008

MY BEST BIRTHDAY GIFT EVER!!!!

I have to keep this super short as we've got terrific storms heading in but I just had to share this super cool God thing. For months I've feared that someone dear to me had died. Fikile was more than my domestic worker in Swaziland, she was a true friend. I've not heard from her in the longest time and even in Swaziland could not track her down. Today I received a letter from her...ON MY BIRTHDAY!!! She is doing well and praying that God will take me back to Swaziland so we can be reunited.

Praising God for my best birthday gift ever...and off to fix supper before we lose electricity...again!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

AN ALIEN ENCOUNTER OF THE FOUR YEAR OLD KIND.

My oldest daughter recently had a conversation while outside with her brother T. I asked A to relay how it went:

"Two jet planes streaked across the sky. 'Look!' T said, pointing. 'What is it?' I asked. 'Aliens!' he screamed. 'Aliens are coming! Aliens!' 'Where're they landing?' I began to name his best friends 'No, no' he would say to each one. 'So where are they landing?' He gave me the best 'you-are-so-stupid' look a four year old could & then said 'At our [pronounced "ouw"] playground!' 'I don't see them...' 'They're invisible!'

Saturday, March 01, 2008

BRINGING HOPE

If you've been around me lately or done much reading on my blog, you've probably heard the term "carepoint". Some of you might have a pretty good understanding of what exactly that entails, but others might be scratching your proverbial heads wondering what the heck this crazed woman is going on and on about.

Carepoints are places of hope and love and joy and promise. Practically speaking, they are what their name implies...places of care. The carepoints are community based centers where children can gather primarily for food and fellowship but according to how well-funded or well-manned (0r in most case, well-womaned) a carepoint is, other needs are often met including clothing, some very basic schooling, Bible clubs, purity groups for teens, and access to medical care.

While on our trip to Swaziland, we were able to visit several of these carepoints. We saw the hardworking women, mostly gogos (grannies), who daily cook for these children, many who are orphaned, and other volunteers who are pouring their lives out to do what they can to help these children not merely survive, but grow into Swazi citizens who can break out of the ugly cycle of poverty and bring a better future for this beautiful mountain kingdom.

I found this video that illustrates wonderfully carepoints in action. It was made by some short-term young missionaries with Adventures in Missions. While in Swaziland, we were hosted by AIM staffers and I first hand saw the terrific work these folks are doing for "the least of these".

May you be blessed by this and motivated to pray for those involved with the carepoints.