Monday, November 30, 2009


Adventures in Missions founder Seth Barnes is not only a man who leads an organization devoted to raising up young Christians who will change their world, but he is also a father devoted to raising his children to be Godly, responsible adults who will live out God's unique call on each of their lives. In fact, his daughter Estie just spent 3 months in Kenya practicing her nursing skills. His children are all now in their young adult years so here is some wisdom born from experience, observation, and Godly inspiration:
God's design for the parenting process is that we should take our children and turn them into responsible adults. We do this by allowing them more and more autonomy as they get older.

5% a year

A good rule of thumb is that each year, you as a parent should release another 5% of the decisions you make for your child to your child. So at two years old, you may make 90% of your child's decisions and at three, you release another 5% and now your child self-governs 15% of the time.

Using this rough calculus, by the time your child is 18, you should have released responsibility for 90% of your child's life to them. And if you are making decisions for your kid in their 20's you are probably enabling them. In their 20's, people should be thinking for themselves and running their own lives. You as a parent are given a 20 year project of turning your children into responsible adults.

Does this mean that your child shouldn't consult with you about decisions when they are 21? Of course not, but realize that there is a big difference between a consultant who points out issues or asks clarifying questions and a parent who fails to see that the time for their child to take control of their life has come and gone.

Children should have everything they need at age 20 to self-govern, setting appropriate boundaries and goals.

Problems in letting go

Why is it that so many modern parents continue to hover and second guess their children's decisions well into their 20's? My hypothesis is that has to do with the way a pendulum swings between one generation and another. The parents of baby boomers focused on their work and may have missed their children's sporting events.

Feeling this gap, not wanting to make the same mistake, baby boomers crowd the sidelines of their kids' little league soccer games. And they continue to hover in their children's lives as they get older. They live with the remote control in their hands and don't know how to set it down. They organize their lives around their children and use technology to perpetuate their dysfunction.

What parents need to realize is, they should not organize their parenting as a way of addressing gaps in their own upbringing. Giving their child too many trophies and too much attention does not make him a better adult, it just spoils him. Children need to feel the consequences of their decisions if they are ever to grow in wisdom. There is no substitute for pain – life is full of it and parents can't ultimately protect their adult children from it.

RX for broken parenting

Adapt your parenting style to address what your child needs to become an autonomous adult, not around your needs.

• Ask yourself, "What do I need to let go of?" Each new year, your child should be making more of their own decisions.

• Look at your life and assess if you've organized it around your children. If you have, then find something else to do with your time.
 You could use your need to protect to help care for orphans in Africa, for example.

• Invite someone you respect to look over your shoulder and assess your parenting as relates to this issue. If you feel defensive about it, it's probably a problem. Far too many moms especially have grown blind to the way their identity has become intertwined with their role as mom. This is normal, but it can't end well - your child has to grow up.

• Talk to your child about how they can show themselves responsible and begin to exercise more control over their life.
To read more of Seth's writings, visit his blog:

Sunday, November 29, 2009


This year we celebrated Thanksgiving with long-time friends, the Denham Blackwells. Whenever you get these two crews together you get a lot of kids, a lot of food, and a lot of CrAzYnEsS...of the best sort, of course.

Kids playing, running, riding horses, goofing off at Graceland.

The cooks and their creation.

Megan and Anna gotta get every bit of chocolate frosting off of the wrap.

Giving thanks to the Lord and then definitely enjoying his bounty!
No, pictures, please.

While some model and laugh off the feast, others sleep it off.

Aah, the joys of family and friends and grace-filled holidays.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


If your fridge looks anything like our fridge, it's full to overflowing with aluminum wrapped bundles, mismatched Tupperware, and plastic baggies crammed with goodies. One of the things I love about Thanksgiving Day is all the yummy leftovers. But sometimes, you just have more than you know what to do with and if you serve it in the same format one more stinkin' time, your family is going to go all psycho ninja on you. Help is on the way! I discovered this recipe last year and posted about it on my blog. Hope it helps creatively recyle those fridge contents. This is what I did with some of mine and it turned out yummy:

I used up my leftovers in a recipe I saw Rachael Ray make on her 30 MINUTE show while at my mom's. I've tried to find it online, but to no avail. So here's the "fly by the seat of your pants" version:

Put a good heavy skillet on a medium burner and heat it up.

Add just enough of your favorite cooking oil to lightly cover the bottom. I used
safflower oil, a "good for you" oil.

Crumble up your leftover dressing or stuffing in the bottom of the skillet after the oil heats up. Allow the dressing to heating up. I stirred mine up a couple of times so that it wouldn't get too brown on the bottom.

Then sprinkle enough shredded cheese over the stuffing to cover it in a thin layer.

Pour raw scrambled eggs (add salt and pepper first) over the stuffing. You want there to be enough scrambled eggs to cover the cheese and seep down thru the cracks in the dressing layer but not so thick it'll take forever to cook.

Then sprinkle Parmesan cheese (fresh or from the green can) over the eggs.

Put in an oven preheated to 375 and cook just til the eggs are firm.

Since my stuffing was already pretty warm when I poured the eggs, they cooked and firmed up pretty quickly.

If you're a big cheese eater, you can add more on each individual serving.

This tastes a lot like the traditional breakfast casseroles using bread and eggs so it can be served as a breakfast dish or with a meal like you would a frittata or quiche.

All of my family liked it and this will become an after-Thanksgiving tradition in our household. I liked it not just because it tasted good, but because I was able to make it with items I already had on hand and it was super duper quick to fix --- EASILY under 20 minutes from start to finish.

BTW, in your family, is it stuffing or dressing? Around these parts, dressing seems to dominate as the preferred name and it's usually a cornbread based dish. I'd love to hear about yours.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Day of Giving Thanks! The last of the Macs are no less grateful for their blessings just because they've been interviewed after the rest. A busy mom of seven just can only do so much on any given day, don't'cha know.
So without further adieu, let's begin the final counting with 10 year old P:

1. God

2. My family

3. My friends

4. That I had the BEST costume at Fall Festival. I was a GIRL!!!!

5. Halo 3

6. Sonic the Hedgehog

7. My cousins

8. The world

9. Legos

10. Wii and Wii games

11. Sports

12. Comic books

13. Logan Seal the Kitten

14. X-Men

15. Games

16. Toys

17. TV

18. Moms

19. My dog Brownie

20. Indie the dog

21. Shadow the cat who's my cat

22. Prince Caspian that was my cat

23. All the animals

24. Freedom

25. The army

26. Technology

Here's my oldest son D's list:

1. My friends and family

2. People of Swaziland

3. My dog

4. Boy Scouts

5. God

Now we have 8 year old LG's list:

1. Littlest Pet Shop

2. My big brother D

3. Friends

4. Toys

5. Birthdays

6. Sonic X

7. Wii games

8. Legos

9. Kittens and cats

10. Indie our dog

11. Sweets...I love sweets!

12. Fruit

13. Colors...if there wasn't any colors there wouldn't be any beautiful things.

14. Card games

15. Computers

16. Ipods

17. Animals

What am I thankful for? Where do I even get started? I have so many but I can't spend all day listing them. I love the number 24 so I'll count my blessings up to that digit.

1. God...His unconditional love and grace is simply amazing!

2. My faithful husband

3. My seven incredible children

4. My extended family

5. The abundance of friends that I have...both old and new, near and far

6. The beautiful people of Swaziland

7. That my daughter A got to spend a month in that country this past summer

8. That I'm going to get to take my husband there for the first time next year

9. A loving, open church that encourages me to live out God's dreams for my life

10. Our family's upcoming mission trip to Mexico to build a house

11. PoPcOrN

12. Dark chocolate m&m's

13. The internet, facebook, blogs, and the FIAR boards

14. Books and gifted writers such as Lisa Samson and Claudia Mair Burney

15. Music

16. My part-time job as an artist for a local children's shop

17. The beautiful fall colors

18. Hot, clean water for showers and baths

19. A clean house... a mom can dream, can't she?

20. Ministry times in inner-city Jackson

21. Children's HopeChest, Adventures in Missions, & Samaritan's Purse

22. Daughter A's job at a local Christian Conference Center and Camp

23. Warm socks

24. Joy!

And what about my hubby? He says he is thankful for "a spouse who doesn't have issues"! That's me! Really. I know, hard to believe, huh?

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I hope you each are overwhelmed with an awareness of how much God loves you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Here's 6 year old T's most unusual list of blessings he is thankful for this Thanksgiving:

1. Cats
2. Mom
3. White powder donuts [beignets]
4. Indie the dog
5. Knuckles the Hedgehog
6. Tales from Sonic
7. Sonic the Hedgehog
8. Amy...she's a pink hedgehog
9. Shadow the Hedgehog
10. Daddy
11. Sonia...she's a pink hedgehog
12. Manic the Hedgehog
13. Blaze the Hedgehog [big brother PW says shes a cat]
14. Victor the Alligator
15. Monkeys
16. Bunny from Sonic the Hedgehog
I think I definitely see a trend here.
17. Eggman from Sonic X
18. Lilly...she's a bird...from Sonic X
19. Turkey
Turkey? From Sonic X?
No, not from Sonic X. Just turkey.
Like the kind you eat?
20. Antoine from Sonic
21. Robotnik from Sonic Underground
22. Uncle Chuck from Sonic Underground
23. Silver the HedgeHog from Sonic
Wow, you definitely have a lot of Sonic things you are grateful for. Guess you like Sonic, huh?
Yes. I want to do more.
Okay. But can you do some that aren't Sonic, please?
I can't, it's my program.
Well, I guess your program is going to be REprogrammed to send you to bed.
Mom, one more.
No, please?
No, please.
Okay, what?
Okay, his name starts with a "P".
Your brother?
Yes! Bye-bye dudes. Happy Thanksgiving, dudes!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Little Miss M and Daughter B have counted their blessings, now it is time for the oldest girl baby. Here goes:
1. God's eternal, always forgiving, always take-you-back-no-matter-how-many-times-you-leave, always amazing love.
2. My trip to Africa and my incredible teammates. I love every single one of them an insane amount.
3. The Dark Knight . I heart Batman!
4. The perfect combination of Gambit and Rogue and great music.
5. A job that pays.
6. Intense dramatic conversations with Camille, which in the course of an hour, we're known to cry and laugh ourselves sick.
7. Christopher not only putting up with my intense moods and attitude, but also encouraging and joining in.
8. JAM
9. New Orleans.
10. A really great family who still...for some reason!..loves me!
11. Madeline's blonde moments, her "Hey now"s and her hilarious squeaks when she's mad, and her turnaround.
12. Lessons learned.
13. My independent nature.
14. My driver's license.
15. Alyssa's sweetness and hard hugs.
16. Orphan kids that love unconditionally.
17. Logan Seal and the too short time we had together.
18. Hair dye.
19. My ultimate Partner In Crime...Batboy!
20. All the birthday wishes, phone calls, and presents I got.
21. Starr (of my heart)
22. Coffee House at Canton Christian center
You've come up with more than anyone else so far.

I'm very thankful this year.

Any other blessings to count?
23. Two new Bibles
24. X-Men
25. Freedom
Okay, I guess that will be it for now, though there's tons of other things I'm thankful for. These are just some that popped in my head. This has been the best year of my life. There were a lot of really hard things that happened to me and others close to me...a lot of difficult lessons learned...a lot of tears cried...but, the good things and the new experiences were worth it. This has really been a good year.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Last time, Little Miss M told us what she was thankful for this Thanksgiving Season. Now we go to our second born. Here is what B is grateful for this time around:
1. This year

2. Music

3. Friendship bracelets in neon colors

4. Dancing to Michael Jackson with my friends

5. Black nail polish

6. My bff Jesus

7. Summer

8. My long as they don't force me to have family time

9. Romania

10. Literature

11. Bedtime stories to my best friend Courtney

12. My mom's camera

13. Downtown Jackson and homeless people

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Only a few more days til Thanksgiving, which happens to be my husband's favorite holiday. One of the reasons that he loves it so much is because of all the holidays, it has managed to stay relatively commercialism free and the focus is on being thankful for what God has blessed us with over the past year. He also loves the rich history behind the holiday and it doesn't hurt that he actually has some kin folks who sailed over on the Mayflower. Ever heard of the bad Billington Boys who almost burned up the Mayflower when they set fire to a keg of gunpowder? Yep, some of his kin. And their dad? Well, we won't even go there.
That said, Thanksgiving Day is a big day for us. We love dreaming about, fixing, and eating all the traditional dishes; spending time with family and friends; reading books, watching videos, and telling family stories related to the pilgrims; and as mentioned above, taking time to say thanks to the Lord for all He has done.
To prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to go ahead and start thinking about some of the blessings in our lives. After all, every day really should be a day of giving thanks for God's goodness!
To begin the counting of our blessings is 4 year old Miss M. Here is her list of things she is thankful for:
"Littlest Pet Shop"
"Getting a Spirit (the horse) birthday for my 5 year old."
"I'm grateful for going to Grandmommy's house when it's Christmas."
"I'm thankful for we're going to 4th of July at Grandmommy's"
"I'm thankful for Blue Baby Doll and that she'll get lots of stuff for Christmas"
"For dressing up like a monster."
"That's it Mama."
Ain't she a sweetie? I definitely have my little girl on my Thanksgiving blessings list.

Merry as a toddler sharing her Thanksgiving feast with her cousin's dog. If a dog can be thankful and count his blessings, he was including Miss M on his list that day.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Yep, that's the BIG HAIRED, lipsticky, Graceland Southern Belle herself pictured up above hugging on some Swaziland missionary kids now all grown up. This photo was taken during the two years that I served in Swaziland as a single missionary during the late 1980's as a Southern Baptist Journeyman. I primarily worked with our church's preschool but also taught Sunday School, led the youth girls, and helped with the young adult group. Those two years were definitely two of the most fun years of my life and planted a love for Africa deep, deep in my heart.
And the rest of the folks in the picture? All Southern Baptist missionaries and other missionary children who will always be very dear to me. Each one of them was a part of something truly amazing...the start of my Swaziland journey.
Thank you for loving this disorganized, procrastinating, scared, often air-headed, young woman so very long ago! Y'all were truly family.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big sleeves, skills, chapstick, voting for Pedro, ligers, Happy Hands, Lucky, tots, Gosh!

Well the guy who brought the world that delightfully geeky movie, as well as the magnificent NACHO LIBRE, is back with another one --- GENTLEMEN BRONCOS! It looks totally stupid and random, just the way I like Hess' movies!
Basic plotline, a homeschooled kid writes a science fiction story that gets stolen by a big-time but desperate author. What results is pure cheese bliss the way only Jared Hess can dish it up.
I've not been able to find out if it'll be hitting the big screen in my area, but if not, it'll be one of the very rare dvds that I ever purchase for myself. And when I have my first screening, you're invited! Leave your sophistication at the door, bring a 6 pack of iced rootbeer, and join me for dark chocolate m&m's and my world famous popcorn as we laugh ourselves silly.
Gosh...make plans now!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I couldn't agree more with what my pal Carole Turner wrote at her blog, THE WARDROBE AND THE WHITE TREE, a couple of days ago:

"Mom, there's Stacy" Evangeline said to me as we passed the intersection of Winborne and Victoria in north Baton Rouge on our way to church last Sunday morning. Stacy is a prostitute we have reached out to on occasion. We have invited her to come get some free clothes, breakfast and coffee at the BRDC cafe. Gave her a card with the hot-line information on it, Asked her if she wanted to go to church with us, and one time tried to get her some help for a bruised face she had just gotten from a john.

Knowing the first names of a few prostitutes is part my 13 year old daughters life. She works with the homeless, befriends gang bangers, teen prostitutes, girls who have no parents and had their sister sold to the guy down the street. She helps with small kids who have lost parents to gun violence, kids without enough to eat, no electricity at home, no running water.

When Megan [my niece] first moved in with us, after a few weeks she said,"Gosh Aunt Carole! We have to do something with church everyday" I didn't quite understand what she meant cuz' we only attend church on Sundays. BUT then she started naming everything: I have BRDC band practice on Monday nights, Tuesday afternoon we go to Hip Hop dance class at BRDC, Wednesday they go to Epic Student Ministries, Thursday morning is Homeless breakfast, and on Friday's we sometime help at the BRDC cafe, and do Saturday outreach when we can, not to mention sports, which is at our Highland Campus, and Midnight Outreach that Dean and I go on. So after thinking about all that, I realized she was right. It is almost everyday that we are doing something "with" church.

And then I felt so grateful for the life I get to live and the life my kids get to live. Being the church, with the church, wow, We are living the dream and I never take that for granted. Our family is called to do what we do. God placed us at Healing Place Church because we are all supposed to be here, at the Dream Center, reaching out to prostitutes, homeless people, drug dealers, pimps, and all people that society deem undesirable.

Sometime people express concern that my kids are being too exposed to the darker side of life. But it's usually people who allow their kids to watch garbage on TV, waste their life online or enable them to become lost in the popularity game at their high school. I would say THAT is the darker side of life. I would rather shelter my kids from the things that steal our souls and numb us to the needs of others then to keep them from the God given gift we have of serving the ones society pretends aren't real.

I dream that one day Evangeline will be running her dream of a free lunch counter that only employs homeless people, where she daily greets the outcast of society. And I am glad Megan is here, not being sheltered, her mom is very glad of it too, who knows what this time is doing in her heart.

Thank you Jesus that my family doesn't lead a sheltered life. YOU are our shelter. We take rest, comfort and protection there.
To read more of Carole's writings on parenting, adoption, ministry, human trafficking, homeschool, and 80's HAIR BANDS, visit her blog:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanks to the wonder of the internet, I've gotten to know the
Wallace Family. This past summer, the whole bunch of them --- parents and kids --- spent a few weeks leading a short-term team of young women as they ministered among God's precious "least of these" through Adventures in Missions. Take a virtual trip to Swaziland via their video containing some beautiful photography:

Swaziland Africa from Doyle & Tonya Wallace on Vimeo.


If you are interested in making a tangible, huge difference in the life of one of these children, contact Children's HopeChest. They will tell you how you can personally sponsor a Swazi carepoint child which will mean they will receive the food, education, medical care, Bible teaching, & clothes that they are so desperately lacking. And all done with heaping amounts of love.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Just rec'd this from our Swaziland carepoint sponsor coordinator. My oldest two daughters and I spent time at this carepoint last year and we and our church youth group sponsor two children. Thought some of you might be interested in participating in this amazing ministry:

Hello everyone! We just received 27 hard copy profiles of new children being cared for at Beveni. Our carepoint has become known as one that is providing food to children, and so the children come. They range in ages from 3 years to 17 years and include both boys and girls. I am struck by how many are very young: 11 were born in 2004 or later.

I do not have these files downloaded into my computer so I cannot send them to you via email. But if you or anyone you know are interested in becoming Hope to a child that has little to hope
for, please contact me via email! And please help me spread the word about their needs: you are welcome to share my email address with as many people as you can.

God has provided for the children of Beveni in enormous, significant ways this year. I believe He will continue doing so. One way He does this is through His big kids: through our hands (by typing emails) and our voices (by sharing the story of Beveni with others).

Jesus is becoming so real to this carepoint community. He is shining in an area of the country that had been without His light. I so desire that light to burn brightly and to welcome all who see it in.

Please know how grateful I am to care for the people of Beveni with you. You are such a blessing of encouragement to me!

I covet your prayers as we begin the journey of finding sponsors for these precious children. You prayers buoy me and my family along!

In Him, with faith in His bigness and for the Beveni community,
Deb Gangemi


Contact Deb at her email address: bevenicarepoint "at" comcast "dot" net

To read more about the Beveni Carepoint ministry, visit:

Sunday, November 15, 2009


If God wills the evangelization of the world,
and you refuse to support missions,
then you are opposed to the will of God.
--Oswald J. Smith.


Saturday, November 14, 2009


Seth Barnes of Adventures in Missions shared this at his blog:

Nsoko, Swaziland is the most pain-filled place on earth I know. In a country where 45% of adults have the HIV virus, the people of Nsoko have an infection rate that, astonishingly, is twice that - 90%. Visit their homes and you can't help but encounter the pain. Skeletal women with hollow eyes wasting away in corners. Frightened children left to cope by themselves. And our people, Pastor Gift and Philile are right in the middle of it. Every day they're comforting someone, burying someone, taking someone to the hospital. They touch and consecrate the remorseless pain of their neighbors.

[Thursday] night I received a message from Pastor Gift that a windstorm had blown through and crumpled the roof of our community center and had demolished many homes (
report here). It leaves you shaking your head and asking, "How much more can a person take?"

All of us experience pain. Pain as a one-off at worst results in post-traumatic shock syndrome. It's the repeated pain - the pain upon pain that is senseless or abusive - that dulls the senses and sends us scuttling for safe places. We have no words for it. At a minimum it seems unfair. With Job we shake an angry fist at the God who set this whole thing up. We ask "why?" and our voice echoes unanswered off the walls.

I know a family that this year said goodbye to their father, a victim of cancer. Left behind are a mother and daughter also battling with cancer, while the other two daughters cope with devastating pain of their own. Pain upon pain. It's more than anyone should bear. What do we say in the face of such monstrous realities?

Some of you know what I mean. You've had your fill and the cup of your pain is running over. It's a thundering migraine that won't go away, a thumb in your eye when you're already beat down and gasping for breath. You've lost your job and suffer the humiliation of getting turned down for the hundredth time. Many of us know couples who, having lost their child then find that the pain of the loss causes them to lose their marriage.

Horatio Spafford's life gives us perhaps the best answer to this question of pain upon pain. He lost his son to an early death, his business in the Chicago fire, and all four of his daughters drowned when a ship went down. Later, passing by that spot, he wrote the famous hymn "
It is Well With My Soul". But that's not the end of the story. Later, he and his wife moved to Jerusalem and founded a ministry to the poor. The ministry later became the subject of a Nobel Prize-winning book.

I remember one of the last times I was in Nsoko sitting in the dirt with a Swazi woman who had lost her whole family. We visited the graves of her family members and sang "It is Well With My Soul" with her. And in sharing her grief, we honored it, for a moment transforming it to something holy - a sacrifice to a God who, despite appearances to the contrary, still cared, shining hope into a place sandblasted by pain.

What else can we who follow Jesus do except that - join our brothers and sisters in their distress and honor the pain that has no explanation and the God who won't give one? It is the response of Jesus' disciples to his death and it is the sacred pathway God still gives us to journey. In Nsoko this morning, that is what Pastor Gift and his staff will be doing. Half a world away, we can join him through our prayers and through our
giving. Some of us may even hum Horatio's Spafford's hymn as a way of consecrating this awful fight to bring light into the darkness.

If you feel led to financially give towards helping the people of Nsoko who have been affected by this terrible storm, go to this link:

Friday, November 13, 2009

This report came in this week to the Adventures in Missions headquarters from a missionary in Swaziland:
I had just sat down on one of the mattresses in the common area of where we live to watch an episode of [a popular television show] with some of the girls. I had never seen it before, and thought a little mid-day bonding over popcorn and a show sounded pretty good.
Five minutes into the show, William and Matt walked in the room and asked the question... "Are there any girls who would want to go with Pastor Gift to deliver a baby?"
I think after the initial shock wore off... I jumped up faster than I ever had before. I looked at Erin who had also jumped up and started pumping my fists in the air and screaming with so much excitement. Within a few moments, six of us girls were piled into White Chocolate (the old white van we drive around) and ready to go. We picked the mother up from her home. Her name is Gamane. She was already in a lot of pain and could barely walk.
This is her story: Her mother was a prostitute, so she is a direct product of that lifestyle. Her mother was born again and now looks down upon her daughter, disowning her because of the lifestyle that SHE has now chosen... the life of a prostitute. Gamane, only 25 years old, is now pregnant with her 5th child, and has no idea who the father is. She is HIV positive, and has no money or food for the baby.
So we get her into WC (White Chocolate), and started comforting her. Erin, Kelly, Hannah, Kimi, Cori, and myself began to ask her questions to try and take her mind off of the pain. Erin suggested that I sing to her. So I sing. "You are the source of life, and I can't be left behind... no one else will do... I will take hold of you. I need you Jesus to come to my rescue. Tell me where else can I go? There is no other name by which I am saved, you capture me with grace. I will follow you." She was put at ease for a few moments.
The hospital was about 45 minutes away... and we were making good time.
Her contractions were getting closer and closer together. Kel started to time them, and they were about 1 minute 45 seconds apart. Kimi checked and said she wasn't that far along, and literally 30 seconds later, I look down... and see half of the baby's head!
Every one screamed "THE BABY IS COMING!" and hardly even 10 seconds later, the whole baby was out. It happened so fast!
Pastor Gift was yelling to us to shut the windows, and wrap the baby up. We didn't have anything! Luckily, Hannah had decided to layer that day (so fashionable, that girl). So she took off one of her shirts and we wrapped the baby up. A girl. A beautiful, beautiful baby girl.
I was crying. Bawling. Harder than the baby. It was the most beautiful... disgusting... thing I had ever seen. Pastor Gift told us to get the baby to suck on something, so Cori stuck her finger in the babies mouth, and she began to suck on it. Everything was normal; the baby was healthy. Then Gamane's cousin grabbed my hands and told me to help her push. We had to get everything else out of her... the umbilical cord, the amniotic sac... (I will spare the gory details for those that cannot handle it). It was insane.
We asked her what the baby's name is going to be, and she said that she didn't know. Then she told us that we could name it for her. We all got SO excited. We talked and prayed about it for a few minutes, and then decided on HOPE, which is Litsimba in Siswati (the language here).
The reason behind it is obvious. We believe that there is hope for her life. Hope for a NEW life, and that she is going to bring that Hope to Swaziland. Gamane loved it.
A few minutes later, we pulled over on the side of the road. There were no buildings around us, no people... just cows, a lot of mountains, and a lot of cows. We had a flat tire.
A young woman laying on the back seat of White Chocolate, fluids and blood everywhere, a baby bundled up on the blanket, six girls who have no idea what to do, and a flat tire. And a lot of cows.
Pastor Gift changed the tire... with a tire that was even more flat than the one that was on it before. We tried to flag a couple cars down, but no one would stop, so we did the only thing we could do... we drove. Welcome to Africa, friends.
From the moment we pulled out, you could see the lines from the rim of the tire grinding into the asphalt. 15 minutes later, we arrived at the hospital and handed them over to some professional care.
She is HIV positive, so she cannot breastfeed. We walked to the store and got some milk. Gamane asked who was singing to her in the car. I told her that I was. She said that she didn't know what was going on around her, and that all she could hear was the song, and that it helped her through everything. I cried again. We prayed over Gamane and Hope. We prayed for her little life... for God to invade her heart, then said our goodbyes. We couldn't fix the tire, which was shredded at this point, so we hitched a ride in the back of a truck and headed home.
I was thinking about the beauty of life. The miracle that it is. And then I was thinking about the tragedy of her situation. There were so many thoughts... so many emotions. It was so beautiful, and so sad.
Pastor Gift is looking for a family to take care of the baby. They may have found a home, but I ask that you all pray for Gamane and baby Hope. God has a plan for her. And Gamane saw God's love through us in a way she never had seen it before. I could see the glow of the spirit all over her. Pray for redemption in her life.
I don't really understand it all. Life. Death. Struggles. Victory. Hardships. But I do know... God... is in the midst of it. Of it ALL. He was there. He is there. He sees Gamane. He sees Hope. He loves them. He has a plan. A purpose. He does for everyone. We are blessed. Because we are alive. And we have Him.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Our state has a very unique treasure, the first public women's college to be established in the United States of America. It is my alma mater, the place I go "home" to every spring, Mississippi University for Women. Over thirty years ago, it began to admit male students but continued to play a very special role in educating women and shaping them to become confident leaders. Study after study have showed the positive aspects that can be gained from an education at a one-gender school. For me, I learned that it was not just okay to be smart, but something to be valued. I found my voice as I gained confidence in speaking up in class and interacting with my professors in an intelligent way. When I attended graduate school a few years later at an institute that was majority male, I was often the only female who would ask questions or debate issues with the instructors. I credit my wonderful, small, mostly-female college experience for that.

Over and over again MUW has been ranked among top colleges in the nation and region for academic excellence. It's truly an ivy-league experience on a public college budget. There are no hundred-plus classes that meet in cavernous auditoriums. In fact, the overwhelming majority of classes are small enough that professors can easily know all their students by name.

It's traditions are unique among all the other universities with a rich campus life that isn't focused on male athletics, as almost all others four year colleges are, but on activities such as the annual SongFest, class rivalries, and philanthropy projects and on organizations such as the student government, the two-year and four-year social clubs, and academic honoraries.

Because of the small size of the student population, a few thousand, and the strong emphasis on living on campus and being actively involved, the college often feels more like a large extended family than just some place to take classes. As a girl in a family with only one brother, I found my sisters at The W, as it is affectionately called.

MUW produces graduates who move forward from that secure, nurturing foundation to become leaders and innovators in nursing, politics, business, the arts, journalism, education, and almost all other areas of the work force as well as in the home and community.

Sadly, because of it's small size and relative proximity to Mississippi State University, over the last few decades some have sought to do away with The W. They look at the money issue only and see it as an easy way to cut the state's budget. They usually either want to shut it down completely or merge the Columbus-based university with Mississippi State which is located 25 minutes away in Starkville. But to do so, though it might save the state money, would lose a resource too costly to define in financial terms.

Not every student wants to go to a mega-school. Not every student can or wants to study in an environment where the professors never know your name until you reach upper-level courses. Not every Mississippi student wants to go to a college where, to be honest, football is the king...not academics and campus leadership. And not every Mississippi student out there can afford to attend a prestigious, private college but they can afford to attend Mississippi University for Women where they will receive an academic and student-life experience that compares right up there with top performing, private institutes of higher learning.

So please, Governor Barbour and others involved, look beyond the dollar signs. Embrace the unique academic treasure we have here in Mississippi in the form of The W and let's get behind promoting her as the treasure she is, not just to our students, but to the nation and the world.
It has been reported on the news that Governor Barbour will soon recommend that MUW be merged with MSU. Would you please call Governor Barbour at 1-877-405-0733 or 601-359-3150 and let him know that you are opposed to this plan? Thank you so much.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009



In honor of Veteran's Day, my husband --- who is a former 82nd Airborne paratrooper and a Green Beret with the Special Forces 20th Group --- had the day off from work. To celebrate the day and to spend some couple time, we made a little road trip. We drove about 45 minutes away to the tiny town of Wesson, Mississippi. There we dined at a very special restaurant that my husband had discovered on a business trip a few months back.

PORCHES is located in a beautiful, old home nestled among many lovely trees in a quiet neighborhood just a short walk from the quaint downtown area of Wesson. When you eat at Porches, you feel like you're eating at a friend's home. Many of the rooms have been filled with tables for dining, but some still look just like they would if a family was living there complete with a genteel sitting room and bedroom. We ate on one of the porches that give this dining establishment it's name and it was so nice on this cool, autumn day to look out into the small courtyard filled with an abundance of plants.


The food is as lovely to the taste buds as the setting is to the eyes. The menu rotates according to what day of the week it is. There are several set entrees, also known as "house specialties", that are always available and can be ordered from the back of the one-paged menu (such as a chicken salad croissant or a rib eye steak) but the most popular choice is to order from the "Daily Menu". Their is also a senior plate option that is slightly smaller and a vegetable plate option. Today's options were:

Baked Chicken Casserole
Roast Arista Pork Loin
Served with your choice of three Vegetables
Corn Pudding
Skillet Cabbage
Seasoned Baby Lima Beans
Feta & Black Olive Rotini Pasta
Porches Hot Pineapple
Fresh Garden Salad
(Ranch, Comeback, Italian, Sun Dried Tomato, or Raspberry Vinaigrette)
Homemade Yeast Rolls
Skillet Cornbread
Today’s Desserts
Porches Bread Pudding with Almond sauce
Buttermilk Pound Cake

Tea and Dessert included all for just $8.88 (cash and checks only). An excellent price for a delicious meal that was very, very satisfying. I couldn't even finish my dessert because the servings had been so generous.

Wesson is only about 45 minutes south of Jackson, if you're like me and keep the speed limit, and just a bit north of Brookhaven located a few minutes off of of I-55 making it an easy place to go if you're driving along the freeway on the way to someplace else or want to get out of town for a slower, gentler pace. And though life might be a bit slower in Wesson, if you order from the daily menu option, the service is quick and you can easily be in and out in an hour or less if time is of the essence. Though you might find yourself being tempted to ignore the watch and leisurely enjoy the tranquil setting of Porches, old-fashioned Southern hospitality at it's nicest.


For more information on PORCHES, including directions and hours, visit their website at .

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is food to one man may be fierce poison to others. .



Photo taken of Daughter A and her friend & fellow Swazi team member Chandler holding octopi tentacles at the Central Grocery Store in New Orleans on 11/07/09.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Here are photos from the family celebration for A's 16th birthday:

And here are photos from our day in New Orleans: