Thursday, April 30, 2009


gentle lady, mother of nine
widowed too young
no time to grieve, life had to go on
times were hard
in later years,
when you could take some ease
you planted the whole front yard
on clemson street with flowers
a little outpost of eden
you were already white-haired
and worn
when i came to know you
i loved the way you poured coffee
into the saucer for me
laced with sugar and lots of cream
you would pat my hand and say
"come sit near granny"
and i would snuggle up beside you
my head on your bosom
i did not know then
what i know now
how age and
the cares of this world
catch up with us in the end
how i wish i could roll back time
and join you in the garden
once again

Once again, my friend Stacy has blessed me with her beautiful art...both in words and in design. Thank you, Stacy, for sharing your color with the world.

Stacy wrote this poem with her maternal grandmother, Mildred Hall, in mind. To read more of Stacy's poetry and see more of her amazing mandelas, visit her blog at:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009



The only thing worth stealing is a kiss from a sleeping child.

~Joe Houldsworth


From the blog of AIM missionary Traci VanSumeren. To read about her adventures on the World Race and to learn more about the Swaz baby in the photo above, visit her blog at:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


how can i explain savannah
her beauty transcends words
still, i search for them
knowing that you, too,
have such places of the heart
that place where
once you pass into her
your first impulse
is to weep for joy
imagine yourself there
and you will know
my city
my home
I've truly been missing Swaziland today. The deep yearning to be be loving those precious "least of these" and encouraging and helping their caregivers and the other ministers and missionaries...has been so strong I've been a bit teary. Okay, to be honest, I've been more than a bit teary. This morning in the car, I wept before the Lord. Asking Him to both take me back there one day and give me the trusting patience to wait til that day arrives.
So when I read the above poem that my friend Stacy wrote, it immediately touched my heart. When I journeyed back after being gone for 18 years, I remember standing in my room the first night in Africa and asking God, "what am I feeling?" Then I knew --- I was feeling at home. I remember the tears of joy I wept when we first drove into Swaziland and through the city of Mbabane where I had lived in the 1980's. I remember appreciating anew the wonder of the mountains and the beauty of the people who inhabited that place. I remember wanting to grab hold of every minute, every experience. And I remember not wanting to leave.
Each day since my return I've missed Swaziland. Each day I pray for it. I pray for provision and protection. I pray for light to penetrate and overwhelm the dark places. And I pray that God will let me go there and live the rest of my life in that land.
The land that makes me weep for joy.
To read more of Stacy Wills' poetry and view her art, visit:

Monday, April 27, 2009


...away from being a bona-fide teenager. It's hard to believe in some ways, but then in other ways, it's not. He has really grown up over the last year or so. I'm so proud of the young man he is becoming. I know God has exciting, BIG things in store for his life.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Here's some more glimpses into Swazi life from the viewpoint of AIM missionaries, Marius and Jodi Deetlefs.


For many children in Swaziland, Christmas gifts and a special meal are just something to dream about. For these precious children who are participants at carepoints financially supported by individual, churches, and other groups through Adventures in Missions and Children's HopeChest, gifts and special food were an exciting and greatly appreciated reality.


Above the children are seen lining up for their Christmas feast which included among other things, goat meat stew...a HUGE treat for children who rarely ever get meat.

Each child received a Christmas gift. For the school age children, that gift was a brand new backpack with some school supplies.

How thrilled, proud, and appreciative they were. What an example of joy and gratitude they are to me .


To learn more about the ministries of Adventures in Missions and Children's HopeChest, visit their websites at:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jodi and Marius Deetlefs are relatively new missionaries to Swaziland. Their first year has both been exciting and very trying. Jodi has been suffering from health issues for a few months now and they've even had to leave for treatment in South Africa. This has been very difficult for them as their strong desire is to be in Swaziland ministering to the orphans, widows, and others in desperate need of help. Please pray for them as they go through this very hard time.
But on top of this hardship has come a huge heap of blessing! When Jodi went in for further medical examinations, it was unexpectedly found out that she was pregnant! As Marius said at his blog, the cyst had a heartbeat! Praise God!!!!
Below are photos from their first year in Swaziland. Visit their blog at to find out more about this amazing ministry God has called them to.

Jodi spends a lot of her time simply loving on the carepoint children...many of them who have lost both parents or if they do have one parent, that parent might be too ill to give much care or be overwhelmed by raising extended family members' children who are now orphaned.

Here's Marius with Musa. The girls and I met Musa when we traveled to Swaziland last year. He's a passionate follower of Jesus who has dedicated his life to discipling the children at carepoints scattered throughout the Manzini area.

Children wearing traditional Swazi cloths most often worn on special days.

This little guy is wearing a traditional animal skin loin cloth.

Many poor Swazi children do not own even one pair of shoes. And if they do own a pair, they were it long after most of us here in America would have thrown them away.
The children's feet were washed in preparation of them receiving new shoes sent from Christians in America.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Here we are, the Mr. and Mrs., within the first year or two of our marriage, visiting down at my mom's house.

And yep, I still love me some big hair and lipstick! Some things just never change.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hey Readers! Celebrity Blogger again! My post is up in completion so go read it's awesome boringness and kill brain cells! (and maybe some eardrums if you're speakers are up to loud) Woo hoo!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On this Earth Day, we praise the Creator for this beautiful world that He had blessed us with and pray that we will be good stewards of all that He has given to us.
He has given each of us one chance to live our lives in worshipping Him as we
fulfill His mandate here on this earth.
Genesis 1:31a
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Genesis 2:15
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden
to work it and take care of it.
Deuteronomy 11:12
A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.
Jeremiah 32:17
Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
Revelation 5:13
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hello Readers! This is the girl known as Oldest Daughter 'A' on this blog. But you all can call me Celebrity Blogger. (I should be a celebrity. I'm so much more interesting and prettier than them. If you don't believe me I can direct you to some very reliable people who will set you straight.) Anyways, I'm going to blog about my family members who (since I'm a celebrity now and all that) get blogged about. I'm going to blog! I know! Songs that make me think of them.

Dad: 'Theme from Last of the Mohicans' & also (for some weird reason unkown even to me) the song '100 Years' by Five for Fighting sometimes reminds me of Dad & Mom together.

Last of the Mohicans:

100 Years:

Why? Well, because when I was younger he owned that soundtrack and after I read the book he let me borrow it. I stole it and it is now part of my cassette tape collection. Hehe. Also, when I got to watch the movie he watched it with me and kept a running commentary going. So the music from it all sounds very masculine and army-ish, along with having a certain Dad-ness about it to me. Except for the song 'The Kiss', which I listen to with an evil grin, usually snickering, 'cause mom won't let me watch that scene of the movie and calls it the "Historically-Incorrect-Make-Out-Scene". Can I insert an eyeroll here? Thank you. (Love you mom! Don't ground me!) And hey, maybe all you Readers can help me figure out why '100 Years' makes me think of them. Any ideas?

Mom: Ummmm....something really happy...oh I know. That annoying Fransceca Battitelli song. 'I'm Letting Go'. Yuck. Oh and also 'That's Just the Way We Roll' by the Jonas Brothers.

I'm Letting Go

That's Just the Way We Roll

Why? Because she listens to it (the Francesca song) all the time and it's all happy and poppy. Yuck. And the Jonas Brothers because she looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooves the JoBros and it's a song about family.

B: I love my sister B! (All the time, just sometimes I want to kill her.) And there's a lot of songs that remind me of her. But I guess the ones that I can't help but think of her when I hear them are 'Heroes & Thieves' by Vanessa Carlton (especially the line about being "Stubborn and wrong".), although really any Vanessa Carlton song because she listens to them so much. 'I'd Lie' by Taylor Swift because almost all of last year she listened to, and sang that song, ALL THE TIME. I am not joking I swea---promise. (Happy mom?) It was so annoying! You can only hear so much about someone lying about loving someone and how pretty his sister is and how you know him so well before you want to destroy something. Like the singer's cd player's repeat control (which actually I did). And then, well this song is sorta a Me to Her thing, 'On the Ride' by Aly & AJ. It's a song about sisters and how great the (usually) are and how close you can be with them.

Heroes & Thieves

I'd Lie

On the Ride

D: My brother D. Oh yeah. 'The Imperial March' from 'Star Wars'.

Imperial March (Darth Vader's theme)

Why? Because that was the first real song he learned to play on the piano and he played it all the time. Plus, he's a Star Wars junkie and we both think Darth Vader is the coolest and should've lived. We both cried in 'Revenge of the Sith'. Him, because he was ten years old and a bit traumatizes by it all and me because Anakin (Hayden Christensen) had gotten his gorgeous face burned off and his beautiful body was all cut up! It was tragical!

P: Brother P. It would have to be 'Bring 'Em Out' by Hawk Nelson and 'S.O.S.' by Jonas Brothers. 'Bring Em Out' 'cause he wants to be Jason Dunn (Hawk Nelson's awesome front man) and it's a super hyper song that in one version has Drake Bell (from Drake & Josh) in it. And Patrick thinks Drake & Josh is so cool (I think it's because he has a crush on their little sister played by Miranda Cosgrove but whatever.). He also thinks the Jonas Brothers are the awesomest ever and likes how his voice sounds when he gets to the "Ooooooh...this is an S.O.S." part.

Bring 'Em Out


Princess LG: Um........Oh the song from 'Alice in Wonderland'. 'In A World Of My Own'. Alice always reminds me of the Princess. And her voice in this song especially.

In A World Of My Own

T: Crazy little T. What song? Oh yeah I know.

Womanizer (by The All-American Rejects)

Why? Because he so totally is! He's obsessed with girls and is already such a womanizer! It's scary I tell you!

M Hobbit: 'Best of Both Worlds'. She is obsessed with Hannah Montana and wants to be her when she grows up and marry all four of the Jonas Brothers (I'm including the Bonus Jonas here). It is truly scary and terrifying. Especially when she does her Hannah/Miley imitation. She could be Hannah Montana as a toddler.

Best of Both Worlds

Ok, thank you for reading this Celebrity Blogger blog post. Now, comment!

Monday, April 20, 2009


My friend Drewe Llyn is a gifted writer. I'm often blessed by the poems she gives as gifts, the articles she writes about her life in ministry, and her blog posts at PALMS OF HIS HANDS. Recently, I read this one and she was gracious enough to let me share it here at Graceland:

In the car with time to spare, each of us was carefully dressed and ready for church. The cloudless sky and bright sunshine were welcomed reprieves from the past week of storms. A sunbeam splashed across my lap as my husband backed out of the drive. It was a gorgeous day.

While smiling down at my personal sunbeam, I noticed dozens of white cat hairs and fuzz all over my black skirt. My smile faded. Surely they weren’t there earlier. Where did they come from? Well, obviously they weren’t clearly visible in the artificial light of the house, but in the sunlight all was revealed. I brushed them off the best I could learning a valuable lesson: “Be sure to keep a lint roller in the car.”

Ok, so I learned more than that.

I was reminded that when I check my attitudes, habits, and spiritual growth in the artificial light of what others do, I’m sure to miss something and feel pretty smug about myself. But when I stand in the Sonlight, I see myself as I really am. All my imperfections are revealed. They cannot be hidden. Jesus doesn’t even attempt to brush my faults away. He gives me a new garment without spot or wrinkle; He clothes me in His perfection. He clothes me with Himself.

“…for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” ~ Galatians 3:27

(c) Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Just wanted to give a quick follow-up to yesterday's post. Yesterday about $135 was made and then all the baked goods that weren't sold were taken to the girls' respective churches today and all items sold bringing the total to nearly $200!

We are thankful for this amount and appreciate your prayers.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


Here's a correction to the above story: Apparently I was wrong, I got a facebook message from Megan and they actually raised a few hundred more than I'd realized. Someone baked bread for the sale and brought it to their church. They sold that homemade bread for $100!!!! Now that's some kind of amazing bread! Then several people gave her flat out donations so she raised all told about $800 towards her trip during this one weekend. Again, I will say, praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


...for the fund raiser that's going on right now for my oldest daughter and her best friend Megan? They are raising money for their AIM missions trip to Swaziland. They're holding a jewelry and bake sale in front of a local grocery store and so far they've only sold a couple of cookies and a brownie.

1. Pray that they'll raise lots of money. They both still need to raise about $3,000 by the beginning of June.

2. Pray that they'll somehow touch lives and get folks more focused on missions and reaching His "least of these".

3. Pray for their safety. Their are about 4 teenagers and 2 pre-teens along with one mom working the sale and a few of them are doing a "road block" at a nearby intersection.

Thanks in advance!

Friday, April 17, 2009


Before the Jonas Brothers, there was the wackily adorable Monkees!


Yep, that little Miss B a few years ago. Ain't she adorable??? My, my, my.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Scared - A Novel on the Edge of the World from Children's HopeChest on Vimeo

Tom Davis, author of FIELDS OF THE FATHERLESS and RED LETTERS, has written his first novel. SCARED brings to life the story of orphans in Swaziland in what promises to be a powerful experience. Watch the trailer and spread the word!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I've mentioned Pastor Gift of Nsoko Care Center before. He is a Swazi national ministering in one of the poorest areas of his home country. Daily he fights to keep children from starving and parents from dying. He has sent out this urgent prayer request. I've told him that I would pray and ask many others to as well. Will you join me in fighting for the life of this young woman?

Just down the road from the Nsoko Care Center lives Dudu Mngometulu.

She is only 25years and dying of AIDS. The opportunistic disease killing is tuberculosis. She has been on treatment for almost 3 years now in a row.

Yesterday we discovered that she has been put on wrong drugs from the beginning. A Briton doctor from the Good Shepherd Hospital unapologetically declared that this is a failure of the health system.

Susan Elden went out of her way to assist us help Dudu. She has the worst kind of TB known as MDR. There is only one MDR hospital in Swaziland and we were told there is no place for Dudu.

We took the drugs any way hoping that a nurse that is not far from the community would help inject. She said no she cannot help because she is too busy.

Systems can fail but God never fails. I was beginning to give up on Dudu. However, because of this I have faith in God. She can live!

If you choose to believe with me please do whatsoever you can to help Dudu get better.



I was reading my artist friend Stacy's blog and came across something I wanted to share with you:

the top question i get asked when people see my mandalas is, "how long did that take you?" and the most common comment after that is..."you must have a lot of patience."

the question can be answered in one of two ways. in reality, it has taken me about 40 years! i try not to "go there" because most folks really don't want to know all that's kind of like when we southerners ask, "how are you?" all we usually really want to hear is "fine! and you?"

so i generally just tell them what they want to know - depending on the size and medium, a mandala can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to create.

as for the comment, "you must have a lot of patience to do that." - it took me awhile to figure out what bothered me about hearing that. because i don't think i have more patience than anybody else, and patience isn't what i'm thinking about as i'm drawing or painting. what i'm usually thinking is...i love what i do!

the answer hit me one day in sunday school when someone was reading aloud the passage from I corinthians 13 (the love chapter). "love is patient..." love is patient! that was it! i love what i of course i have patience.

this flash of insight has given me new eyes to see, not only what i do, in a different light, but also what others do. i realized how often i have said the same thing to others - "boy, you must have a lot of patience." now i know, no, they have a lot of love.

Stacy's blog:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

...because I'm overwhelmed by the amazing unexpectedness of this:
It's a very good reminder
that we never know when a
treasure might be hidden just in front of us lying in wait to be discovered.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


My long-time friend Stacy Wills didn't know she was an artist. She didn't realize all the colors and designs and amazing visual expressions that were lying await within her. But then, at the tail end of a very dark season, God gave her a gift...He brought color back into her life . He opened her eyes and soul to the healing power of reveling in the color of life and the richness of His spirit through the creativity He would stir up in her. Since then, Stacy has developed a unique artistic style. She creates mandelas no others. Usually she does not write descriptions concerning them though she will frequently write accompanying poems. For this special Resurrection mandela, she has written out the symbolism because so many people have asked her about it. Enjoy and be blessed:

Starting at the center..."in the beginning"....

"Let there be light..." Genesis 1: 3
"The light shines in the darkness..." John 1: 5

The radiating rings of red, orange, green and blue symbolize creation.

The jagged purple and yellow rings are symbolic of "the fall." "Cursed is the ground because of will produce thorns and thistles..." Genesis 3:17-18

They also are representative of the crown of thorns placed on Jesus prior to the crucifixion. "Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus...they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head..." Matthew 27: 27-29

The intertwining cords of scarlet and lavender are reminiscent of the robes the soldiers dressed him in. "They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail King of the Jews!"....When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!"

On top of and overshadowing all of this the cross. In each quadrant there is a larger cross flanked by two smaller ones. "Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals - one on his right, the other on his left..." Luke 23: 32-33 "I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me..." Galatians 2: 20

The black backdrop speaks of the darkness that fell over creation at the time of the crucifixion. "It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining..." Luke 23: 44-45

The egg shape represents both the tomb and new life. As you can see it is breaking open, and the colors of creation are coming forth - death doesn't have the final word. "Death has been swallowed up in victory." I Corinthians 15:54

The whole of creation has been reborn - made new - in the resurrection of Christ. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..." I Peter 1: 3

To the right of the egg is a circle which symbolizes the stone that was rolled away from in front of Jesus' tomb. The women coming to the tomb that morning to anoint Jesus' body did not know how they were going to remove it. "When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome brought spices...they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll away the stone..." But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away." Mark 16:1-3

The design on the circle is evocative of a few things: the day of Pentecost, the outpouring of the Spirit, the beginnings of the early church, as well as the irrepressible nature of Life...with a capital "L." "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people." Acts 2: 17

In between the egg and the circle is a flame which represents the Holy Spirit, who hovers "over the waters" (depicted in the mandala by the color aqua) of creation and of baptism. (Genesis 1: 2, Matthew 3:16)

If you will notice, the pink and purple (colors used during both Advent and Lent) of the cross are repeated on the egg, as well as on the foundation pedestal undergirding the circle. This speaks of how far reaching the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus is. His life affects not only all of humanity, but all of creation as well.

The inspiration to create this mandala came to me as I was reflecting on my own spiritual journey, so it has a great deal of personal significance for me. My name, Stacy, comes from the Greek word Anastasia, which means "of the resurrection."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My Easter Gift to You

Tom Davis of Children's HopeChest posted this at his blog. It touched my soul. I wanted to share it with you on this very special weekend:

I was genuinely moved by this Celtic "Breastplate Prayer" from Fursa of Ireland, 7th century, that Len Sweet posted on his twitter yesterday. A breastplate prayer is a prayer that asks for God's protection. On the day before Easter I felt it a good reminder of God's saturating presence in our lives:

The arms of God be around my shoulders,
The touch of the Holy Spirit upon my head,
The sign of Christ’s cross upon my forehead,
The sound of the Holy Spirit in my ears,
The fragrance of the Holy Spirit in my nostrils,
The vision of heaven’s company in my eyes,
The conversation of heaven’s company on my lips,
The work of God’s Church in my hands,
The service of God and the neighbour in my feet,
A home for God in my heart,
And to God, the Father of all, my entire being.



By Nathan Wright
Dana Point Times

It only took Luke Spencer one look at the photos from Capo Beach Calvary’s trip to Swaziland, Africa to notice something odd was afoot.

“Luke noticed these kids had no shoes,” said Craig Whittaker, the lead pastor at Capo Beach Calvary Church. The photos included impoverished orphans from Swaziland who, in many cases, have lost both parents to AIDS.

And so the 8-year-old Capo Beach Calvary School second grader pulled out a pad of paper and took out a pen and got to work. In a two-page letter to Crocs, Inc. Spencer spoke on behalf of the impoverished children and asked for the shoe company’s help.

“There are a lot of children in a lot of places who don’t have a mom or dad,” he writes. “Our church helps orphans in Africa and I want to help them by giving them shoes they don’t have. I’m wondering if you can donate shoes for these children.”

The handwritten letter did the job, and weeks later the Spencer family got a call from Crocs with news that 225 pairs of children’s shoes would arrive via UPS. The call was big news for the Spencer family, who weren’t sure if the letter would even get a reply.

“We were elated,” said Mariela Spencer, Luke’s mom. “You can imagine that we assume that people like Crocs get all kinds of requests for donations. We were absolutely thrilled.”

The family celebrated a second time when an anonymous donor dropped off another four boxes of Crocs. In all, Spencer said the church was able to send 500 pairs of Crocs to Swaziland. “The boxes had a note that said they’d heard of a little boy collecting shoes for orphans in Africa and they wanted to match the donation,” said Mariela Spencer. “The note wasn’t signed.”

The Crocs were just a small part of an overall charity effort by Capo Beach Calvary Church, which last week shipped a large container out of Long Beach to Africa. The container was filled with food, clothing and equipment for the church’s adopted Care Point in Swaziland, according to Whittaker.

“We’re hoping the container gets there by June 9,” he said. “We’re going back on June 28 to build the equipment and to hold a Bible camp with stories and games.” The volunteers from the church will take care of a group of 220 children, many of them orphans who are all impoverished.

The church has a long history of working with orphans and children in countries facing tough times, including a 10-year relationship with an orphanage in Russia. The experiences in Russia did not prepare Whittaker for what he found in Swaziland.

“My first year in Swaziland I was absolutely blown away,” he said. “These kids literally had nothing.”

The stories were heartbreaking, including tales of young girls trading sex for a loaf of bread. In a country plagued by AIDS, the consequences of such a trade are often severe. To help, Capo Beach Calvary volunteers built a kitchen at a Care Point with propane burning stoves. The extra food sent by the church, along with the improved facilities, will allow the 220 children to eat at the Care Point every day instead of three times a week.

As Whittaker prepares for the next trip to Swaziland, he has simple instructions for those South County folks who will accompany him on the long journey halfway across the globe. “I tell them that the most important thing for these children is to be touched and to be cared for,” he said. “Most of these children are orphans and they get no physical touch at all. We tell people to bring photo albums so they can share and connect with these children.”


The carepoint that Capo Calvary sponsors is a ministry of Children's HopeChest, the organization that I traveled to Swaziland with last year. To find out how you and/or your church can be involved in eternally impacting the lives of precious children in Africa, visit the Children's HopeChest website at:

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Stations of the Cross for Ragamuffins

More from my friend Claudia Mair Burney on this Good Friday as promised in the previous post:

It was my beloved Brennan Manning who introduced me to the Stations of the Cross. In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, he speaks eloquently of that February day, in 1956, when meditating on the Stations of the Cross he had a powerful experience of the personal love of Jesus Christ, and it is very personal, lovies. Manning recalls, "At that moment the entire Christian life became for me an intimate, heartfelt relationship with Jesus." It is my prayer that you experience Jesus this way always.

If your faith tradition does not practice this devotion, you may not know what it is. Allow me to demystify it for you. The Stations of the Cross, often called The Way of the Cross, is an imaginative prayer the re-enacts the story of the Lord's passion, death, and resurrection. Don't try this as merely an intellectual experience that demonstrates his death precisely. The Gospels testify of such, and you can read the entire Passion of the Lord narrative in John 18 and 19. But this experience of going to Golgatha with Jesus in our imagination can be still be quite useful. For me, it's needful. So, I'm inviting you to open wide your heart and soul, and travel with Jesus on His darkest day. Enter into His suffering, and share it with Him. See where the experience takes you.

To read the rest of Mair's post:


From an amazing writer and my beloved friend, The Ragamuffin Diva herself...Claudia Mair Burney:

This year I felt like the flu was the Grinch who stole my Lent. For weeks I've languished, more miserable than not, with one brand of flu after another, back to back. I may find a few days respite, only to be slammed again, by some new incarnation of it.

Some days, I got my penances and devotions right. Most days I was toast. On this Holy Tuesday I'm thinking of all the people who shared their Lenten journeys with me, and how often I heard from them, "I failed."

Me, too.

Congratulations. If we are more aware of our sins, weaknesses, and failures, we have had a successful Lenten journey. I began the 40 days so earnest, chapel veil on my head, and cross of palm ashes on my forehead. I end it sitting here weary, with another achy tummy, having just finished yet another bowl of Mrs. Grass's Chicken Noodle Soup. I have no idea where my chapel veil is. The cross I bear now is not ashes, but illness, and not the usual one! A completely unexpected addition to my season of penance. The flu taught me something, however, namely, without God, I can do nothing. I can't pray. Can't fast. Can't long even so much as for Him. Lord, have mercy, a sistah can't even crawl, Pepto Bismal and Thera-flu in hand, toward grace with out the grace to do so. My vaguest notions of poverty of spirit are oh-so much more real now. I'm completely reliant on God, because I'm a mess, a sick, tired, sinful, and ridiculously needy mess. What is the point of Lent if not becoming more keenly aware of that?

Thank God for failure. It effectively chases ugly spiritual pride away. It burns up our self-reliance. If we are smart, we will learn to love better because of our failues, and look upon our brothers and sisters in Christ, and on this planet period, with the soft, kind eyes of grace.

Another Lenten surprise has been the tender emotional healing of wounds that have needed salve for a long time. Some sore spots in our soul heal a bit, only to fester once again. What love I've been given. I wanted to do something for Jesus. Turns out He did something for me, and several other lovies in my life. Thank you, Lord!

I wasn't able to do the zine, The Stations of the Cross for an African orphan, but I'm keeping the idea for a later time. Sadly, the orphans need so much support, whenever I do it will be timely, and they will benefit from whatever we raise.

I'd still like to share The Stations of the Cross with you, however. By Holy Thursday I'm going to post my ragamuffin stations right here. We, as poor and needy as we are, can walk together with Christ on the scandalous journey that showed us He loves us to death. I hope you will join me, and covet your prayers.

Much love,

Thursday, April 09, 2009


A couple of days ago, I shared with y'all about the death of a young missionary in South Africa, Sarah Buller. You can read that post here:

Last year, I took my two oldest daughters to Swaziland with me. This summer,my oldest daughter returns without me for a month of ministry. I'm a scaredy cat at heart. I'm very protective of my kids...I even send my cell phone with them when they just walk down the road to the creek. I've just now started letting my two teenage daughters walk around the mall without me. And we still don't let them spend the night at anyone's house unless we've known the parents for at least a hundred years. And did I tell you that my 15 year old daughter is going to Africa without me for a month?

God's been teaching me a lot about obedience, trust, and sacrifice. And my kids have been a part of that.

Steve Basden, a staffer with Adventures in Missions, wrote the following in light of Sarah's death:

I just spent the day yesterday with some other staff members
at AIM responding to the fact that one of our First Year Missionary participants
in South Africa was killed in an automobile accident. In the midst of getting
the details of what happened, working to make sure the team in Africa is cared
for, contacting the family, and praying, I found myself thinking about the cost
associated with obedience. This wasn't an instance of martyrdom in the sense
that you and I think about martyrs. However, a life was lost as a result of
obedience to an understanding of God's will and and call. I've not spent much
time asking why. I know that on this side of eternity, there may not be a good
answer. What I do know is that God is sovereign and in His sovereignty He
allowed this tragedy to happen.

I've thought a lot about the parents in the last 24 hours. I can't imagine their pain. I think often about the parents who send their kids on our mission trips. I know that they are concerned for the safety of their kids. It's natural. You send your 18 year old half way around the world and as a parent, you worry. You understand that something could happen to them. But you move from that quickly, because the possibility of that happening is remote. And then it happens. As I spent the day working through the aftermath of this tragedy, it occurred to me that God doesn't have us playing games. Yesterday death reached up and took one of our missionaries. I know God was and is sovereign in the midst of that, but a price was paid today. If we're going to be in the center of God's will we will find ourselves in danger and the
consequences might be our lives. I've heard it said many times, "The center of
God's will is the safest place you can be." How completely untrue that is. The
martyrs would tell you that God's will is a dangerous place to be. God has sent
us as ambassadors into a world that is in opposition to Him. It is dangerous for
us to be in His will and in obedience we take risks.

This summer my 15 year old son, Ryan, will spend 5 weeks in Mexico serving our mission teams. As a parent I think about worst case scenarios. I understand that something could happen to him. I have a choice. Do I allow my son to be in a situation that God could use to make him look more like Jesus? Do I do that in spite of the known dangers or do I opt out of the danger and keep him home this summer? Yesterday I came face to face with the starkness of the possibilities. God reminded me of the cost that might be required and has asked me to choose. I choose to opt in
to the danger. I choose to risk something for the upward call of Christ. I
choose not to take the safe road that leads to complacency. I choose the danger
that exists within the will of the Father. I'm not sure how this will sound, but
I'd rather my son die in the midst of obediently responding to God's plan for
him, than to live a safe, mediocre life that is an affront to the reality of who
he is: an heir of the King, called to wage a battle for the establishment of the
Kingdom of the King. So I will let Ryan go to Mexico this summer and I'll pray
for two things. I'll pray for his safety, but I'll also pray that God begins to
awaken him to his destiny and that he begins to embrace the danger inherent in

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I have no email access at this time. Yesterday, an update was made on our pc to protect us from yuckies such as viruses and worms. It messed things up bad. I was able to fix everything except I couldn't send email. I could receive email, just not respond. Not too bad as I could respond to most folks via facebook.

But then today, my oldest daughter and I got tech support on the line and tried to fix the situation all the way.

Not. A. Good. Thing.

Now I can't get OR receive email. For a gal who does most of her communicating with the outside world via the internet, this is a bit discombobulating.

Oh well. There are worse things in the world and it won't be forever.

In the meantime, if you need me, you can probably find me via facebook, the Five in a Row message board, here on my blog --- or if all else fails --- call me.


Did I just say to use the phone? Yeah. I went there.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Please pray for the family and friends of Sarah Buller...also the children and teenagers that she loved so dearly. This past weekend, while serving as an Adventures in Missions missionary in South Africa, Sarah was killed in an automobile accident. She had been serving at a children's home caring for abandoned and beaten babies and toddlers as well as ministering to a youth group.

I don't know Sarah or her family personally, but as a mother who will soon be sending out her child to serve in Africa, I feel a connection and know that they are going to desperately be needing the Lord's provision, peace, and presence during this very, very difficult season. I've lost 5 babies through miscarriage but I can't even imagine how hard it is to lose a child that you've spent years and years loving.

To read more about Sarah's life and ministry plus to leave a message of compassion for her loved ones, visit Seth Barnes, founder of Adventures in Missions, blog:

I was alerted by my friend over at THE UNEDUCATED HOUSEWIFE'S GUIDE TO POLITICS about the need for us to act...and right away! Details are below:

Be Heard Project - A Special Message from Future Nurses of America from beheard on Vimeo.

The following is from Jay Sekulow's Trial Notebook of the American Center for Law and Justice:

Stand Up for Conscience Clause Protection

Just wanted to update you on efforts to protect the rights or pro-life medical professionals when it comes to practicing medicine. As you know, President Obama has indicated his desire to rescind the Conscience Clause protections in place that permits medical professionals to act according to their conscience - their Christian faith - to avoid abortion and abortion-related procedures.

The ACLJ has filed important comments with the Department of Health and Human Services clearly arguing that these protections should remain in place. You can read those comments here.

At the same time, there are reports that Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is introducing an amendment to the budget bill today that would protect the rights of health care workers. His budget amendment "ensures that the funds made available through the budget’s health care reserve fund will not be used to violate the conscience of health care providers."

And just this week, two Democratic Senators sent a letter to President Obama urging him to keep the Conscience Clause protections in place.

Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania told the President: "Discriminating against health care providers because of their consciences or forcing coercion into their practices would be a substantial deviation from our shared goal of reducing abortions in America. Therefore, we strongly urge you to preserve the conscience protection rule."

Time is running out for public comment on this issue. The deadline for submitting comments to HHS is April 9th. And, I want to thank the thousands who already have signed on to our petition urging President Obama to reconsider and to keep the protections in place for medical professionals.

If you haven't done so already, please take a moment and add your name to our petition, which will be delivered to HHS. You can add your name here.

We'll keep you posted as developments unfold right here and on our daily radio broadcast, Jay Sekulow Live!

Monday, April 06, 2009

What I just read: ENOUGH by Will Samson
What I'm reading now: THE PRODIGAL NUN by Aimee and David Thurlo
What I'm reading next: THERE IS NO ME WITHOUT YOU by Melissa Fay Greene
What I hope to be reading in the not too distant future: EXORSISTAH by Claudia Mair Burney and...


Sunday, April 05, 2009

"Missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual beliefs, nor out of theological arguments, but out of love" -- Roland Allen

To read about the love being poured out by missionaries and Christian nationals alike to orphans and other vulnerable children in Nsoko, Swaziland, visit Pastor Gift Dlamini's blog:

Saturday, April 04, 2009


As many of you know, my oldest daughter will be returning this summer to Swaziland. Yes, I'm jealous. I freely admit it. I would SO love to be going this summer as well, but it's just not God's timing apparently. But despite that, I'm very excited for her. I know God is going to do some amazing things in her life and through her life. Here is the update letter she wrote and sent out today:

I’m writing this to give you all an update on my preparation for my upcoming mission trip to Swaziland, Africa, and to also ask for your support and prayer.

First off, the team of people I will be going with now has most, if not all, of the team members accepted and added to our team’s blog site ( ). So far, there are sixteen members of our team ranging in ages from fifteen to eighteen. The guys are well out numbered as there are only two of them on our team thus far.

I now know more about what I will be doing while over there. Because it’s Africa, we have to be flexible, but right now it looks like we’ll be helping to build the Nsoko Orphan Village (for more on that, visit Pastor Gift Dlamini’s blog site ( ), running an African-Style Vacation Bible School for the orphans and other vulnerable children and assisting in whatever other ways we can including visiting the dying and sick in hospitals, taking food to people too sick to go to the Carepoints, making Home Visits to check on children while praying for their families, and participating in Swazi worship services.

I will be going to Gainsville Georgia for a weekend long training camp on June nineteenth before leaving for Swaziland. We will be returning to the States July twentieth. I have to raise $4500 by mid-May and so far only have about $1000 so prayers and support are much needed. I also have to buy my plane ticket in two weeks and need to quickly raise $500 for that. The plane tickets cost around $1000 and are part of the $4500 total.

Besides financial support, we also need prayer for these areas. That:

...what we do over there will having lasting significance.

...everyone on the team will get all of their money raised successfully.

...the home sickness and missing friends and family won’t be too bad.

...we’ll be safe while we’re over in Swaziland.

...the team will come together smoothly and there won’t be any drama.

... this very VERY introverted person will be able to handle being around that many people 24/7.

Thank you so much to those of you who have already started praying for me and have given financial support. And thanks to you who will in the future. As you might know from my previous letter, Swaziland has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world and over ten percent of the country is made up of children who have lost at least one parent to HIV/AIDS. The UN has said that within three to four decades, if nothing drastically changes, Swazis as a people group will be extinct. So the situation desperately needs help as the children are vulnerable to all sorts of abuse and extreme poverty. These children need more than physical care, they need to know about a God that loves them and a church family that will provide for them.

Thank you for helping me to be part of the change that Swaziland needs.

If you have any questions about Swaziland or my ministry over there please contact me.


If anyone reading this desires to contribute financially to her trip, just go to her team's blog and you'll find a link that allows you to pay directly online. If you'd like to contribute some other way, just let me know. Believe me, we'll make a way for you to get it to us. ;)

Friday, April 03, 2009


Seth Barnes of Adventures in Missions wrote this on his blog this week:

Many of you reading this are coping with some private pain. Life is hard. Just when you think it's safe to relax, it whacks you on the backside. Pain is inevitable, whether it's the dull throb of regret or the sharp, searing pain of death.

My parents' generation knew this all too well. Born in the wake of a depression and a war that engulfed the world, they expected pain and grew adept at sacrifice. But fast forward to today and a generation is growing up that expects not pain, but entertainment. Everything is optional; so when the going gets tough, they tend to opt out.

It's no way to live. When pain is optional, you have a hard time knowing what things are worth. We learn to prize certain things, that is to place a value on them, by going through pain. As a child, it was the toys I had to work for or wait for that I loved the most. Things need to have a cost attached to them to have value. You don't float down river and accomplish anything. All good things lie upstream.

Job promotions don't just fall in your lab, you've got to burn the midnight oil to distinguish yourself to your boss. Creating anything of excellence usually requires repeated effort. It requires failure. Mozart may have been gifted enough to create masterpieces as a child, but the rest of us have to sweat through years of hard work. We have to swim against the current to get there.

My parents taught me discipline by exposing me to pain. They encouraged me to be a wrestler in high school, knowing that the discipline would be good for me. Every practice, the coaches would push us to the point of exhaustion. We strained and sweated and became well-acquainted with pain. Winning required that we work harder than our competition.

Most healing lies upstream. To move from brokenness to health necessitates patience and realignment, whether it be a broken bone or a broken spirit. The only way to deal with the pain is to go through it.

There's a generation that may never get to healing because of the pain involved. As long as it's optional, the path of least resistance is more attractive. But pain is inevitable for all of us. Downstream we'll find the pain of regret. We'll replay the tapes of missed opportunities. We'll kick ourselves for not sucking it up and moving upstream when we had the chance.

Maybe it's time to turn over a new leaf. Why not choose to face reality while you have the choice? Don't be a victim - choose to move upstream where you'll find your destiny waiting for you.

To read more of Seth's writings, visit his blog:

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sending a BIG Swazi Smile Your Way Today

Isn't she precious? This is one of the little children ministered to at an Adventures in Missions carepoint in Swaziland, Southern Africa. For more information on carepoint ministries, visit the blog of Marius & Jodi Stancil Deetlefs. They have dedicated their lives to serving God as they care for these darling "least of these".

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Many people out there suffer from a condition that I'd not ever even heard of until a dear friend of mine came down with it a couple of years ago. That's my friend in the photo with me and because of her, I've learned that it affects people in different ways, but for many, it takes away their ability to effectively communicate verbally...even verbally communicate at all.

That means on April Fool's Day, telling jokes or recounting old pranks is no easy manner. And April Fool's Day is just a minor holiday to have your style cramped on. Can you imagine not being able to join in on Christmas Carol sing-alongs or sharing what you're grateful for around the family Thanksgiving table? And of course, the condition just doesn't affect the holidays. No, Spasmodic Dysphonia can make something as simple as trying to place an order at a fast food restaurant or talk to the bank teller an effort in futility. And what about not being able to call your grandma long distance and wish her a happy birthday or make friends when you start attending a new church or move into a new neighborhood? It doesn't just affect a person physically, it hits them hard emotionally.

My friend is trying to get the word out about Spasmodic Dysphonia and I told her I'd join in with her. Here's a blog post that she wrote this week

Yesterday Oprah had Michael J. Fox on her show along with Dr. Oz to discuss Parkinsons Disease and Dystonia. Spasmodic Dysphonia, or SD, of which I suffer, is a form of dystonia.

I was actually very nervous about what was going to be said on the show... Last June I posted this video of me talking in an effort to raise awareness about dystonia. In July, I was contacted by a representative from Bachmann Strauss about posting a PSA on my blog regarding dystonia. I did so immediately here. It had not occurred to me until after that that the relation between Parkinsons and dystonia might mean that research could include embryonic stem cell research.

I busied myself and tried not to think about it... until I couldn't any longer. I started doing some research and contacted the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation and asked them if they were involved in embryonic stem cell research or were involved in the fight for federal funding for that type of research. I was assured that they were not.

Because I believe that life begins at conception I am opposed to the use of embryonic stem cells. At the same time, I have a focal form of dystonia that can be hidden simply by my not talking. I can only imagine what it is like for those that have Parkinsons and dystonias that affect their entire bodies. There is and has been great debate over when life begins and I can see where someone who does not believe that life begins at conception would see someone who believes as I do as being an impetus to progress in which they might someday be cured. I do have muscle spasms that occur in my face from time to time, usually when I am greatly stressed, that have caused me to fear that I will develop other dystonias as I age. I've often wondered if there were a cure found through embryonic stem cells if I would change my stance. It has been determined that I am now botox resistant which means I would not have that treatment available to alleviate those types of movements on my face. Where just my voice is concerned, I know that I would not.

This inner conflict has caused me to not use this blog (as I thought I might last summer) as much in the way of bringing others with dystonias on here to share their stories. I was afraid that if Obama was elected that federal funding would become available and that these research foundations would then get involved in ESCR. It all just made me very uncomfortable.

Over on my political blog I did write a bit about stem cell research. If this is something that interests you, here are the links (read in order): Embryonic Stem Cell Research ,
Embryonic Stem Cell Research Part 2 , and Frustrated.

The subject of Obama lifting the "ban" on embryonic stem cell research came up. I was very surprised to hear Dr. Oz state that it really didn't matter now. Fox was obviously irritated (or defensive) when Dr. Oz went on to explain the problems with embryonic stem cell therapy. Fox said that we could have found that out sooner had the research been unfettered... with responsibility, of course. How you can have responsible yet unfettered research is beyond me. I don't want to seem like I have a problem with Fox... I understand where he is coming from and can see why he thinks the way he does. However, it is a perpetuation of the perception that President Bush banned that research altogether when the facts are that he allowed federal funding on that research through already existing embryonic stem cells that were slated for destruction, of which there was a lot, and it is through those strains that much of what we now know was learned!

Dr. Oz went on to say that he believed that we were single digit years away from a cure through adult stem cells. Whether that is true or not and whether that will affect me or not remains to be seen. It did give me some hope, more hope than I've had in awhile, for myself.

I found a website called Cell Medicine that is very informative regarding Parkinsons. The Oprah show did little in the way of actual information in regard to Parkinsons and Dystonia. There is only so much you can do in an hour and there was Fox's book to promote. The fact is that no two people are exactly alike and these conditions cover a wide array of symptoms and affect people very differently. I would like to throw a few quotes from the site down here, however, I would really encourage you to click on the link above and really read through it.

However, the actual use of stem cells to regenerate damaged neural tissue is an area of intense interest and research, and experimental studies have been conducted with varying degrees of success, depending on the particular types of stem cells that were employed. In the 1990s, stem cells from fetal tissue were directly implanted in people with PD in an attempt to regenerate their dopamine-producing neurons, and although many of the implanted cells were indeed found to produce dopamine in the brains of the patients, the patients themselves did not exhibit gross improvement. Some of the patients even developed a disabling dyskinesias that could not be relieved by the usual reduction in antiparkinsonian medications. Indeed, fetal and embryonic stem cells have been shown to carry a number of substantial medical risks to the patient, whereas such risks do not exist in the use of adult stem cells.

Since it is the dopamine-producing cells of the brain which degenerate in PD, an appropriate treatment for PD would be one which is capable of regenerating these dopamine-producing cells. In fact, this would constitute the only truly effective treatment of PD.

Adult stem cell therapy does exactly that.

Although adult stem cell therapy as a treatment for PD is not specifically targeted per se as an isolated area of research at many of the finest research laboratories, nevertheless, there have been numerous studies conducted by some of the finest researchers throughout the world, from which very promising results have been obtained. Indeed, the transplantation of adult stem cells directly into the brains of PD patients has already been performed and has already shown marked success.

One such PD patient, who received his own adult stem cells, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Science, Technology, and Space on July 14th of 2004, regarding his own progress as a result of this treatment. The headlines from this very newsworthy event read, “Beneficiary of Adult Stem Cell Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease: Safaris and Swimming with Sharks.” The Committee was chaired by Senator Brownback, and the patient who received this novel treatment was Dr. Dennis Turner who had suffered with PD for 14 years. His poor responsiveness to conventional medications made him an ideal candidate for the experimental treatment, which was performed by Dr. Levesque. The procedure itself involved removing a very small tissue sample from Dennis Turner’s brain, from which adult neural stem cells were extracted and cultured into matured dopamine-producing neurons which were then injected back into the left side of his brain, which controls the right side of the body, which was the side that was most severely affected in his particular case. The procedure was performed in 1999. A portion of Dr. Dennis Turner’s testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee is included herein:

“Dr. Levesque did not tell me that this treatment would permanently cure my condition. Science has yet to learn what causes Parkinson’s disease, much less how to remove it. However, since this cell-replacement approach had never been tried in a human patient we hoped for the best. And since my only other realistic alternative was to continue growing worse until I eventually died, I decided to have the surgical procedures in 1999, one to remove the tissue and another to inject the cells. I was awake for both procedures under local anesthesia.”

“Soon after having the cells injected my Parkinson’s symptoms began to improve. My trembling grew less and less, until to all appearances it was gone, only slightly reappearing if I became upset. Dr. Levesque had me tested by a neurologist, who said he wouldn’t have known I had Parkinson’s if he had met me on the street. I was once again able to use my right hand and arm normally, enjoying activities that I had given up hope of ever doing.”

“Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease my condition had slowly, but continuously worsened. I can’t say with certainty what my condition would have become if Dr. Levesque had not used my own adult stem cells to treat me. But I have no doubt that because of this treatment I’ve enjoyed five years of quality life that I feared had passed me by.”

For information on the specifics of Dystonia visit the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation and for more information on Spasmodic Dysphonia go to the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association.

If you read this far, go to Coffee Bean's blog and leave her a comment and she will enter you into a drawing for a pound of Saint's Coffee. If you link to her post on your blog, she will enter you into a separate drawing for another pound of Saint's Coffee. Not only could you help her spread the word about Dystonia... you could get a free pound of coffee and feed an African orphan for a month in the process.