Sunday, February 28, 2010


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

--- C.T. Studd, missionary to China, India, and Africa

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Many have been asking if we need anything or how they can help in light of our house fire. Often, they ask over the phone or if we run into them somewhere and I draw a blank as to how they can help. I thought I would make a list as a reference for those interested. Flor now, we can't take big items or a lot of stuff as we are staying in a hotel and then will be in an RV for several months. But here are some ideas of things we could use right now.
Food and other items:
maze books for kids
activity books for kids
Crayola crayons
cute stationary & stamps
address book
Disney's Incredible's comic books
VeggieTale/Larry Boy chapter books
illustrated Bible storybook for kids
hair clips for children, teens, or Mom
pony tail holders
little boys' underwear, size 6 or 7
black, knee-high stockings
ladies' socks for Elysa (black, white, bright patterns...knee high, booties, etc.)
Tom's of Maine toothpaste
plastic spoons
paper/cardboard plates
paper/cardboard bowls
deli foods from Rainbow Market or Fresh Market
tuna lunch/snack "kits"
raisins in mini boxes
"lite" canned fruit (in juice, not syrup)
individual cups of apple sauce (no sugar)
Annie's All Natural Bunny Crackers
all natural granola
all natural peanut butter
honey---in squirt bottle or individual packs
dried veggie snacks
Stevia packs
cans of turkey chili or vegetarian chili
all natural tortilla chips
all natural Cheetos
100% juice juice boxes
string cheese
sliced cheddar cheese or other deli style cheeses
pretzel chips
pretzel chips
whole wheat bagels
baked, bagel chips
pita chips (prefer whole wheat or multi-grain)
organic ketchup (Heinz, Kroger brand, etc.)
cans of bean & bacon soup
cans of split pea soup
cans of tortilla soup
Chex Mix
Tabasco Sauce
One of our biggest challenges is staying long-term in a hotel with lots of little kids. Gift cards to places that get us out and about would be a huge blessing. Some ideas would be restaurants that have indoor playgrounds such as Chick-fil-A, Back Yard Burger, and Pizza Hut. Other local options would be Gatti's Town, Chuck E. Cheese, or Tinseltown movie theater.
We need help with:
*Places for the kids to go for playdates.
*Folks to help us clean up our house, salvage and clean stuff, and get ready for the rebuild/remodel.
*Someone to take the books our daughter had collected to sell for missions and try to sell them for us. It is mostly homeschool curriculum but also cookbooks, fiction, etc.
We need to buy an inexpensive, reliable, used truck. If anyone knows of a good one for sale, please let us know. Our mini van is dying on a regular basis and needs to be replaced so with all the moving and construction we are going to be doing, we would like to trade it for a vehicle that will help with hauling stuff around.
And most of all, please continue to pray for us. God has been so good. Pray that we'll continue to trust Him and rest in His peace and provision. And pray that all the things will come together with our insurance soon so we can move forward with moving an RV onto our property and begin cleaning and rebuilding. Pray most of all, that we will love more! Love Him, love each other, and love those He brings into our life.

Friday, February 26, 2010

We are on Day 6 of "life after the house fire" and God is blowing us away with His provision and blessings. Besides all the initial blessings, first and foremost that our daughters escaped the fire with their lives, God has continued to provide for us over and above what we ever expected.
Folks have washed clothes, brought us food, given the kids toys, taken the teenagers shopping, etc, etc, and then today! WOW!
First, we got a call that there was something for us at the front desk. My 12 year old son went down to get it and it was a BRAND NEW Wii!!!! The kids' Wii had started melting in the fire. Needless to say, these typical American kids were thrilled beyond measure!
Then, I checked my facebook messages and a an alum from my alma mater, Mississippi University for Women, informed me that ALL of the money needed for our 14 year old daughter B's upcoming Adventures in Missions trip to Romania is being provided!
I literally started profusely weeping with tears of immense joy.
And we don't even know who gave the money!
What an awesome God we have.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Thursday, February 25, 2010


"How many there are ... who imagine that because Jesus paid it all, they need pay nothing, forgetting that the prime object of their salvation was that they should follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ in bringing back a lost world to God."

- Lottie Moon
Tungchow, China
Sept. 15, 1887

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We're still resting in God's peace and blessings. We are being overwhelmed by the love that so many are showing us through sweet notes,thoughtful gifts, help with laundry, taking the kids shopping, prayer support, home cooked meals, yummy snacks, etc, etc.
We were glad to find out that the insurance company is paying for professionals to do most of the restoration and cleaning of our salvageable contents for us. This is a HUGE deal!
Still not sure what will be decided about our house, whether it will be declared a total loss or worth fixing up. Even if it is deemed worthy of fixing, it will be like a new house as most everything will have to be replaced.
In the meantime, we are looking at RV options. We'd really like to be back on our property as soon as possible so we can care for our critters, oversee rebuilding, and be around the neighbors and surroundings that all add up to "home".
Please pray that we'll find favor with the insurance agent, find just the right deal on an RV, and continue to grow more and more in love with each other and God. Pray that we'll also be sensitive to others around us, such as fellow hotel stayers (is that even a word???) who we might be able to minister to in some way.
Thanks in advance for your prayers and a grateful heart to all of you who have already been a part of our support network! Friends truly are one of God's greatest treasures.

Monday, February 22, 2010


In light of the house fire, we have had many ask us how they can help. We don't know for sure yet what we're going to need and when we'll need it, but
here are a couple of things for right now:

*We have about 6 loads of laundry here at the hotel that need to be washed. I
have all the supplies.

*Places for the kids to go play or be entertained away from the hotel and the house once we begin working. My friendRhonda is taking my 3 youngest today.

*Homecooked meals that can easily be eaten in the hotel room.

*A couple of small to medium sized plastic bins with lids that the kids can
store their toys, art supplies, etc. at the hotel.

*Eventually we're going to need TONS of help as we sort thru our stuff to see
what has to be thrown out, what is fine, what needs to be cleaned, etc.

*PRAYER!!!! Pray that we continue to rest in God's peace, sleep well at
night,not give in to fear, to mourn in a healthy manner, and to LOVE!!! Love
each other and love those who God puts in our paths. Also, pray as we meet with
the insurance appraisers today that everything will go as it should. We're
really hoping that we can just start a new house from scratch. But whatever is
best. And pray that actiion will happen SOON so we can start the recovery

Thanks and love to you all,

Sunday, February 21, 2010


It is late and I'm exhausted but I wanted my Graceland readers to know our news. Yesterday morning, a fire started in our toaster. Everyone is safe. The house is unlivable but it could be so much worse.

Our family is staying in a nearby hotel paid for by our insurance company. The kids are loving the indoor pool and the cable tv....OLYMPICS! It has just been incredible how God has taken care of us and the love we are receiving from people is overwhelming.

I've got so much more to share but I have got to get some sleep tonight.

Please pray that...

*...we'll be able to get much needed rest tonight

*...we'll continue to rest in God's amazing peace

*...when the insurance appraisal team assesses the damage tomorrow that we'll find favor in their eyes

* RV will be provided for us so we can live on our land, care for critters, and more easily salvage, clean, and rebuild

* a family, we'll be patient and loving with each other

*...we'll continue to see the many blessings involved in this situation.

Thanks in advance and I"ll post more when I"m able to.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


"For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?"

St. John Chrysostom

Friday, February 19, 2010


Sometimes life is challenging. Financial struggles, illness, and other trials can leave us wondering if God cares and if we'll make it. This week, we watched FAITH LIKE POTATOES, a South African film based on the true story of a very real man and his very real faith in a very real and BIG God!

It encouraged and inspired me and my husband when we watched the movie last week. Then last night, I pulled it out again and watched the "story behind the story" in the special features part. It was just what I needed to get a faith boost. As I mentioned yesterday, we've been discouraged and really hurting financially. It has made us question many things including our decision to go to Swaziland this September. The story's message was a powerful reminder that God does care and provide for His children and where HE leads, we need to GO even when we don't see how the provision is going to happen.

For as the main character Angus Buchan says, "the seed for a great miracle lies not in difficulty, but impossibility." We need to step out and obey God even when there are times that it seems downright reckless.

To read more about the real life of Angus Buchan and what God is doing thru the life of him and his family:

Thursday, February 18, 2010


As many of you know, Jim and I are planning on going to Swaziland this fall with the Beveni Carepoint group to minister to children and explore ministry options. Please pray for us. We are facing some difficult trials right now. We need God's peace, direction, and provision.

Thank in advance.

Also, if you are on facebook, look for our newly formed group, "Elysa and Jim's Swaziland Adventure". We'd love to have you join it and keep informed on news and prayer requests related.

As the Swazis so, sala kahle*!

*Stay well

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The H2O Project :: Lent 2010

How do you prepare for the resurrection of Jesus?

Here's an idea from the folks at LIVING WATER:

Christians have an ancient tradition of setting aside 40 days to prepare for Easter. Our traditions are powerful. Our roots are powerful. Lent is powerful. Now imagine we harness that power to heal the world. Imagine us all practicing Lent, journeying alongside Jesus to Jerusalem. Imagine the power if we all were to…

PRAY. Like Christ prayed in Gethsemane.
FAST. Like Christ fasted in the desert—a sacrifice to remind us of Christ’s sacrifice.
GIVE. Like Christ gave his life so that others would have abundant life.

What would it look like to focus our preparation for the Resurrection to PRAY, FAST and GIVE…water?

The Challenge

For two weeks, make water your only beverage. Save the money that you would normally spend on sodas, coffee, juice, milk, and sport drinks. At the end of the two weeks, send the money you saved to Living Water International for the drilling of wells in needy communities. Challenge your church, your youth group, your class at school, your club, or the rest of your family to take the H2O Challenge with you.

What difference can you make? If you saved a dollar a day for two weeks, you could provide three families with clean water for a year. If you got your friends, your church, or your youth group to do it with you, you could reach a whole village. Or more. Every bit really does make a difference.


Go to this link:

OR contact an H2O Project Coordinator near you:

Houston, Texas: Marisol Sampson ( | 281-207-7834)
Raleigh, North Carolina: Chris Winter ( | 919-349-8190)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Professional football players are usually big, in fact, often very big. And in Swaziland, some of them are the biggest men that have been seen in those parts. Right now, a group of missionaries and NFL players are touring Swaziland. But what makes them really big, is not their physical size, but what they are doing. Because in God's game of life, if you want to be great, you have to be a servant.

Here's a blog post from Adventures in Missions staffer Scott Borg detailing some of what the men are seeing and doing in this mountainous kingdom:

Just a few minutes here to give an brief update from Swaziland.

Marcia and I have been leading a group of men these past few days and it has been an great experience. To see 12 men giving of themselves in this country is rare. Among these men are three NFL players who are very large - bigger humans than the Swazi's have ever seen. The response is amazing. The players have hearts of gold and we are having a good time together. Wish there was time for a picture or two!

Today was not as easy day. We started at a care point that serves 261 children. These kids come from very rough backgrounds a live across the street from the city dump. The teacher told me that when a garbage truck comes to the dump the kids leave the care point to run across the street to pick through the new trash. One little one around 4 years old was chewing on a chicken wing and the teacher said he got if from the dump.

Then we went to visit the homestead where a mother of 5 died last week. She left behind 2 children in grade school and two teenage/20 year old daughters who each have their own babies - one only 3 weeks old. They live in two mud houses and have nothing. 7 more orphans in Swaziland now. The guys prayed and shared and we stood in a circle to surround the women to pray over them - a group of men protecting Swazi women and standing in the gap for them. We saw the crops around their house were failing from drought and prayed for rain. It started raining just a few minutes ago - now 7 hours later.

The we went to the homestead of an 8 year old girl who drowned yesterday in a pond. We sat and prayed and cried with the grandmother and father and some other family members. Very sad and tragic.

In each place we bring some food. In the first home one daughter who is 19 has 2 years of high school left. She has no money to pay the school fees. The guys dug into their pockets and paid the year school fees - $250. Amazing.

We have seen highs and lows in our first week here - and more often than not the internet has not worked to even try to update you all! please pray for us as we travel tomorrow to Nsoko - the hardest hit area of Swaziland. We have another group coming in so the logistics and overall work will double for Marcia and I. We are already a little tired - although as I type this Marcia is visiting at the hospital. I don't know how she has the emotional or physical energy to do it.

Well gotta run. Pray for us please -

And here's what Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports! has to say about this trip that includes Saint's Super Bowl winner Anthony Hargrove:;_ylt=AlsDYAKxF9ch5MolUOJoTLFDubYF?slug=jc-swaziland021110&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

Monday, February 15, 2010


On Saturday night, my 2nd son's Cub Scout troop held their annual Blue & Gold Banquet and he crossed over to Boy Scouts. He was so proud and I was so proud of him. He is now attending Boy Scouts with his big brother and dad. Here are some pictorial highlights from the event:

Sunday, February 14, 2010


On Friday night, despite the snow, hunky hubby and I got to travel down to Wesson for our Valentine's date at Porches that wrote about in a previous post. It was a lovely, romantic evening. I've been pleased with every visit to Porches and getting to share it with my true love made it even nicer.

The old home that houses Porches was beautiful in the snowy evening light. Many had cancelled due to the weather so we had our particular part of the restaurant all to ourselves. Let me tell you about our amazing meal.

Now I am no fan of crab cakes, but let me tell you, Porches' crab cakes are fabulous! The "Come Back" sauce served with them is the perfect compliment. We split that for an appetizer before our salads and main entrees. I ordered the fried Gulf oysters and hubby had a serving of prime rib with a crazy good, creamy, horseradish sauce. Again, I am no fan of horseradish but this sauce and the prime rib it was served with made for a fabulous pairing. With the entrees were served fat, fluffy rolls (which we were too full to even touch except to wrap up and bring home to the kids) and baked pototoes. And again, we were too full to even finish those. Then came the desserts! Hubby ordered the bread pudding with an almond sauce and I had this HUGE affair called "Chocolate Resurrection". And yes, we couldn't finish this either. Of course, the kids were more than glad to eat the rest of it at home.

And as always, the service was efficient and the owners were charming and gracious.

Here are some photos from the evening:

Fast forward to today, and for Valentine's Day, before I'd even had a chance to get up, my beloved brought me goodies---dark chocolate m&m's, a funny yet romantic Hoops and YoYo card, a dark chocolate rose, and Zapp's Cajun Crawtaters. I gave him a whole pack of dark chocolate coconut and almond bars and the kids got Hershey's bars on top of all the goodies their teachers showered on them at church. The kids had special Valentine's activities in church, one lady crocheted heart-themed goodies for the women, and we sang special love song to Jesus.

It was definitely a special and love-filled weekend.

Here are some photos from our love filled Valentine's Day:


Saturday, February 13, 2010


I forgot to write my blog post today. I sat down at the pc with the best intentions of posting more snow pics and writing about our fun but got distracted answering fb messages, uploading pics from tonight's Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet, etc, etc. and plum forgot!

The mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Oh is nearly midnight so I better call it a night.

But I'll at least post one quick pic from tonight:

Son P crossed over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts tonight. I love this pic of his sisters showing him the love!

Friday, February 12, 2010


For the second time in a little over two months, we've received snow down here in the deep south. And we are loving it! Here are a few snowy scenes for Graceland:

Outside last night, excited and celebrating that the first few flakes are falling! Can't see them? Trust me, they were there.

See...if you look really, really closely you can see white specks floating down. Really! you can see it for real! Isn't it gorgeous???

More to come later! You don't think I just took a handful do you? C'mon, you should know me better than that by now!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Yesterday I posted about the ready-made cookie dough that I had bought for Valentine's Day to satisfy my kids' sweet tooth and enjoyment of baking while at the same time, not making it too work intensive on this non-baking mama.

Today, we didn't slave over cookies, had a lot of fun, made some great pictures, and came out with some good least, I HOPE they are good. We've not eaten them yet as they are supposed to be for the homeschool group Valentine's Day party. But, as it is now snowing ---yes, SNOWING in the DEEP SOUTH --- we might not be having the party tomorrow, in which case, the family will be devouring two big piles of yummy, easy-peasy, stress-free cookies!

Happy Valentine's Day Cookies to You!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


My kids, like most kids, are crazy for sugar. And since I usually try to limit their intake and, as my 16 year old daughter has just grumpily pointed out, I rarely bake sweets, they really look forward to those holidays that will give them an excuse to indulge. Added to that, I've got a couple of kids who love to help cook and think that baking with Mommy is just the most incredible activity ever!

But to be honest, I do NOT find baking to be the most incredible activity ever. I love cooking. In fact, it is my favorite of all the domestic arts. But baking? I avoid it as much as I can. Maybe because unlike casseroles and stir fries and soups, I have to follow exact measurements and times and temperatures and not just fly by the seat of my black corduroys.

ANYWAY....since Valentine's Day is coming up and since the kids will want to take something fun AND sweet to their homeschool group party and since I really do love my kids and enjoy seeing how much fun the little ones have, I'm going to let them back cookies. But since I loathe baking, I'm doing a great compromise....

PILLSBURY READY TO BAKE COOKIES with RED MORSELS, in honor of Valentine's Day, of course.

The kids are happy. Mom is happy. And that's a win-win situation for the folks at Graceland.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


My cousin's family is going through a horrific trial right now. My heart is crying for them. This song is for them.

When your world is shaking
Heaven stands
When your heart is breaking
You never leave God's hands


I love y'all and am praying every single day.

Monday, February 08, 2010


Photos from our superb SUPER BOWL party at church last night. As you'll be able to tell, we've got some serious fans in our midst!