Friday, April 30, 2010


As the week draws to an end, thought I'd just do some news catching-up and share what I've been thinking about lately:

*My friend and one of my FAVORITE authors, Lisa Samson, has just been nominated for yet another Christy Award. If you've not discovered her writing yet...what's wrong with you!?!?!? Seriously, though, Lisa's books are some of the BEST, little known books out there. She's written several, amazing fiction books and has just come out with her first non-fiction book about her journey to Swaziland two years ago. Which, by the way, was the trip I took as well. Lisa was who God used to get me back to Africa and stirred up my passion for it's people. If you're looking for a book of hers to start with, my personal favorite is QUAKER SUMMER for fiction but I also adore, for obvious reasons, her Swazi book called LOVE MERCY. The book she is nominated for this year is THE PASSION OF MARY-MARGARET.

*On another Lisa Samson note, she has opened a tea shop up in Lexington, KY. So all you bluegrassites, head over to CUPPA for a friendly welcome and a lovely spot of tea.

*And on another Christy note, another fellow-tripper has been nominated for a Christy Award. Tom Davis, of Children's HopeChest, wrote a novel about the life of an orphan in Swaziland. That book, SCARED, has been nominated in the "First Novel" category. Tom was the leader of the trip that Lisa and I took in 2008 and though the book is fictional, the book is an accurate portrayal of what life is like for all too many orphans in Southern Africa.

*My oldest son D is gone for two weeks and we already miss him. He is up at his paternal grand-parents helping them put wood siding on their cottage as well as learning a lot of woodworking skills. Hard to believe my little guy is now a 13 year old who is big and strong enough to help with construction work. They do grow up!

*Daughter B leaves in 6 weeks for her missions trip to Romania! What an incredible summer she is going to have.

*Our oldest daughter A is two years away from high school graduation so we're gearing up the college search process. So far, Colorado Christian University, Seattle Pacific Christian University, Westmont in Santa Barbara, and Our Lady of the Holy Cross in New Orleans (!!!) are the top options. She is interested in doing something related to psychology or criminology or human rights or law. Not sure how it is all going to come together yet but she really has a heart for God and rescuing women and girls trapped in the sex trade and slavery. It will be interesting to see how God leads her in this journey.

*Our housebuilding/remodeling is progressing. The kitchen is being worked on a bit and I'm excited about how it is going to turn out. I've never had a new kitchen or even one that was newly remodeled. I'm being pretty practical through out most of the house where colors are concerned due to the fact that we might be selling it in 4 or so years to head overseas. But in the kitchen, I'm getting to go a bit more personalized. I have selected a beautiful blue, yes BLUE, Formica counter top with a honeyed, bead board cupboardry (is that even a real word?). I am going to use blue and yellow as my main accent colors. I think it is going to look very cheerfully cozy.

*We are still living in our RVs and continuing to learn more and more about how to live simply and in a more organized manner. Our contractor is hoping to have us back in our house by the end of June. It will be exciting to be in a practically new home but I'm thankful for the lessons I am learning now and for this provision. Despite the problems we have in America, we still have more resources available during times of emergency than any place else in the world. Now I just have to make sure that I don't forget to share this abundance with those who don't have the options we have.

Time is almost out on the library pc so I'd best be closing. Thanks for visiting Graceland and thanks again for all your love, prayers, and support.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010


It has been a while since I posted any notes to the group. Life has a way of “busying” us up!

But my heart and mind are always, ALWAYS, aware of “our” kids of the Beveni Carepoint in Swaziland.

So I come today with a request that you pray.

Of the 132 children receiving care at Beveni, there is just one little boy NOT sponsored. So we can praise God for the 131 who are sponsored: He has been so faithful to provide sponsors for them!

But like the story in the Bible about going off to search for the one lost lamb, and the Shepherd who could not rest until that lamb was found, so it is with little Philani. I just posted his photo on the homepage of this FB group.

He is an 8 year old boy who lives about 25 minutes from Beveni. He is one of the rare children who lives with both of his parents. Very few still have two parents.

But please don’t read that to mean he isn’t vulnerable: Swaziland is one of the poorest nations in the world, with the highest rates of HIV infection. There is hunger, there is disease and there is a lack of opportunity for the children of the nation.

So will you please pray that God provide the sponsor who needs Philani as much as Philani needs the sponsor? Because in truth, the sponsorship relationship blesses both hearts involved.

Please also share this note with other people.

As always, I can be reached via Facebook or by email: bevenicarepoint "at" comcast "dot" net

I pray that each of you are blessed with His joy today, knowing full well that your prayers for the vulnerable children like Philani are powerful and appreciated!

In Him, with faith,

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


What sounds are you hearing on this Tuesday morning (or maybe it is evening or afternoon) in your corner of the world?

I am over at my friend Rhonda-not-Robin's babysitting her kids. It is a beautiful, sky-blue, sunshiny day with a light breeze and absolutely perfect temperatures...not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

I hear

... the melody made by Rhonda's wind chimes on her cabin's front porch.

...6 year old T playing Poptropica on the other lap top with his pal Ben.

...the notification from my cell phone that someone is messaging me or commenting on a facebook post.

...the little ones playing outside and one of them, I believe my little Miss M, calling out, "Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater!" crunching on the gravel of the nearby driveway and others wooshing past on the blacktop road out front.

...the buzzer on the back porch dryer alerting me that my clothes are ready.

...the rustling of the green, green leaves as they dance on the playful breeze.

Do you hear what I hear?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hard to believe, but thirteen years ago I was entering the world of mommy-to-a-boy. Back in his little boy days, my son D dreamed of Thomas-the-Tank-Engine and running a train museum. Now he is thinking about going to Washington, D.C. this summer for two weeks at the National Boy Scout Jamboree and dreaming of a possible missions trip to the Amazon rainforest next summer.
Things certainly change, including my love for him. As much as I loved him on the day of his birth, I love him even more now and am so proud of the strong, capable, smart, and responsible young man he is becoming.
I look forward to the paths that God will lead him down in life. I'm blessed to be his mother.
Happy Birthday!

Saturday, April 24, 2010



Earlier today, one of my dear friends, Rhonda Roberts, called to say that her sister-in-law had been killed in a car accident. Please pray for the family and friends of Marla Roberts. She leaves behind a huge network of family and friends including a husband and son.

Thanks in advance,



Julie Anderson, an ADVENTURES IN MISSIONS staffer in Swaziland, posted this account to her blog this week:

Sunday after church we visited Jabulile's house. Jabulile has been part of Timbali Crafts since the beginning. She was abandoned 6 years ago when her husband decided to take a 2nd wife and she now lives by herself on a small piece of land in the rural area where AIM works. When Jabulile first started living on the land (technically owned by her husband but culturally he has to allow the 1st wife to live on his land) it was still overgrown with trees, brush, etc. Jabulile cleared the land herself, and was able to piece together a small house made from sticks, mud, cardboard and some scraps of corrugated metal. It is literally falling down. Jabulile can't even sleep in her house at night for fear of what might happen if a strong wind came up or if someone broke in. Every night she sleeps at her friend Juliet's house (another Timbali woman) down the road.

We went to Jabulile's house to see her home in hopes that we can start making plans to build her a new house. She's told me before that she has purchased some supplies for the house, but I was so surprised to see the piles of concrete blocks stacked around her house. For three years Jabulile has been saving money from what she receives from her sewing for Timbali Crafts and she has been able to purchase 600 blocks-half of what is needed to build a small two room home (w/out water or electric). What a picture of patience and perseverance. We're hoping that now we can come alongside Jabulile and provide the rest of what she needs to get a new home. Pastor Walter (the main Pastor AIM works with in that area of Swaziland) was with us and said that the men from their church could volunteer their time to build, if we could help finish buying the supplies. Just that morning in his sermon he had said, "If you see something that needs to be done, do it." "Now we will put it into practice," he said. I just talked to Walter again today, and he said the men of the church have already started digging the foundation of the house.

The estimated cost for buying the rest of the materials for Jabulile's house is $1500. If you'd like to donate toward the cost of building a house for Jabulile, follow this link:

Choose Swazi Craft Co-op in the drop down menu, and put Jabulile's house in the comment section.

Juliet was also with us during our visit. What was so beautiful to me was seeing how excited Juliet was for Jabulile. Juliet has her own struggles. Her husband, who had also abandoned her several years ago for another woman, died and left her to pay for all of the burial and funeral expenses. There was a legal battle over which woman would receive the husband's death benefit from his employer. Juliet was homebound for several months for the obligatory "time or mourning" until the matter was settled and the husband could be buried. Finally, Juliet received the death benefit and was able to pay for the burial and funeral, and build herself a new house! Juliet has seen the Lord sustain her and provide, and now she is rejoicing in hope with her friend.

So many of the Timbali women have stories similar to Jabulile's and Juliet's. Another woman has had 4 family members pass away since the beginning of the year. Another talked with me about the anger she struggles with because her husband has at least 7 children with other women, two of which have been abandoned by their mother and are now living in her home and she is now their care giver. These situations are almost unimaginable to me, but pretty much the norm for women here. These ladies are of course, notperfect, but I'm always amazed at the way these ladies persevere, even smile in the midst of hardships, and serve others everyday. Please keep praying that God would be their source of strength and encouragement!!

To read more of Julie's God-adventures in Swaziland and see photos of Jabulile and her house, go to her AIM blog:

Friday, April 23, 2010


There is a popular song playing on our local radio station these days. The song talks about living like we're dying. It hit me this week, as followers of Jesus, we need to also be living like they're dying. Because they are. And this is one of the reasons it it so hard on me not to be in Swaziland right now.
Lord, give me patience. Keep my praying for them and living a life that allows me to minister to them from here. Keep me from being sucked back into a materialistic lifestyle that prevents me from giving to meet the needs of others.Help me learn what I need to learn in the here and the now. But help me never to forget that You died for me so I can live for them.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Woo-Hoo! I am actually at the library again hence a blog post three days in a row! I know, now you can actually breathe again, right?

Time is short for us at the public institute of volumes and technology so I will just do another random list of life stuff:

*Got daughter B her very first, her's-alone cell phone today. It is lime green and she is in love with it! We had put off getting her one because of cost, etc. but now that we don't have a land line, she really needs a phone for when she's not with us. Don't have a photo to show but imagine a very pretty girl with a big ole grin plastered on her visage.

*Today we'll be shopping for the kids' bedding to replace what was lost in the fire. The two youngest girls are going to buy this adorable, groovy animal bedding from Target. The boys will probably be a bit more challenging as they have to match the blues that their rooms have already been painted. The teenage girls are excited about getting to have actually color coordinate, decorated-by-them rooms.

*We have 9 adorable kittens that are all sorts of colors and patterns who turned 5 weeks old today. We're keeping 2 or 3 of them but would LOVE to talk to you about providing new homes for the rest of them.

*Have I mentioned recently that we go to Swaziland in 5 months to minister at the Beveni Carepoint and explore ministry options for us moving over there? Oh? I have?

*Sons D & P are learning Morse code thru Boy Scouts. They are getting quite good at it. They can even send messages via flags. They've got a camporee coming up soon and then this summer more fun scouting. 11 year old P will be attending his first overnight, week long, Boy Scout camp and son D (who will soon turn 13) will be going to D.C. for a two-week annual jamboree.

*The Rainbow Restoration folks returned to our place today to start spraying all our pod contents with ozone. This will remove the smokey smell from our house contents that could be saved. And this means we'll soon be able to return our 200+ library books and once again start checking out books. Long live the OZONEATOR!!!

*By the way, did I mention that we're going to Swaziland in 5 months?

*But for now, my pc time is almost up and I've got to go take a hungry busload of kids to MacAlister's for lunch before hitting the stores.

Grace to you all!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


As any visitor to Graceland can testify, even a casual one, I love Africa. I pray for it. I long for it. I dream of it. And one of the main reasons it holds such a special place in my affection is because of the children.

Amanda Larsen is a passionate 20-something who is spending a few precious months in Mali. This is not her first time to Africa. She has traveled elsewhere including my beloved Swaziland. There are many differences in the two nations, but one thing is holding true for both, the children grab her heart and hold on hard. Here is a recent blog entry she posted about one such incident:

my heart

The longer I am here, the more I am falling in love with the Malians. How unique and precious are all of God's children. How creative He is in all His work! He baffles my mind and I'm so amazed at who He is while I sit here and type this.

Yesterday, I was walking back from lunch at the Camara's house and all these children were hanging by the gate like usual. Except there was one girl who I'd never seen come into the compound. There are a group of women who sell peanuts at a stand right outside our gate under a tree. I knew this was one of their girls because I had seen her sit with them before. She was carrying a bowl of rice that she was eating...except there were so many rocks in the was dirty. Her hair was all sectioned off into squares and wrapped into small buns- about 8 all over her head. She was wearing a too-small blue and stained baby dress, and some very old ratty underwear. I held my hands out to her and shockingly she held her hands out as well. The hard thing is, there are a select few smaller kids and babies who will actually let us hold them, so I was shocked for her to want to come to me. I picked her up and walked back around the corner where our house sits. All of our chairs are usually set under the mango tree for shade. I sat down with her and let her finish her rice. I grabbed an apple and gave her part of it and filled up some water in a cup for her (water---"ji" in bambara). She did not hesitate to take food from me. But she showed no emotion the whole entire time I held her. She would just look at me and back at everyone else. Later on I took her inside of our house (we aren't really supposed to but there were no other kids around and she is young enough I think it was okay), and I let her use chalk on our floor (cement floor) and she was done with it pretty quickly and put it back in the bag and made sure i zipped it up properly. I sat down with her on the floor and blew up a ball for her (world map on it) and let her hold it and play with it. I walked with her around our house. She continually followed me and looked oh so precious, and "perfect" in this house (if you know my heart, you know why I say this). The second time God has reminded me of how much I want to be a mother; a biological mother- who knows! but a mother. All I hear Him say is "love them". I see Jesus in them. When I went to pick her up to take her back outside, she FREAKED out! She didn't want to go outside. She wanted to stay inside the house, and I was like "great look what I have done now". So I fought against it and took her outside while she shook herself in my arms and cried. We sat back down under the mango tree for a while and she calmed down a bit. The dogs- Toupas and Sharbon, walked by and she flipped out again. I let her keep the world map ball and walked her back to her mom right outside the gate. As soon as she got back the bigger kids took the ball from her and started playing with it---oh how I knew this was going to happen!

Today I thought about her all day. Oh how I wanted to go out and grab her and bring her back in, but I was busy with French and other things. Later during the day, Christian and I were walking with "Grandma" and clean clothes back pass the gate and there were some kids so we started "karate" fighting with them for fun. AND making so much loud noise. All the "peanut ladies" walked to the gate and looked in at us and started laughing. Then here comes this girl! So beautiful, wearing such dirty, stained, and too small of clothing. I wanted to bathe her and clean her up, give her a manicure and just hold her in new clothes. I wanted to be able to say "she's mine" and I get to watch after her while she sleeps at night in the room next to me! Oh how hard it is to wait for such a longing desire. I found out her name today, but I don't know how to spell it. I barely know how to pronounce it, but I will figure it out one of these days!

Thanks for reading.

To see a photo of this precious little one and learn more about Amanda's experiences in Mali, go to her blog:

Monday, April 19, 2010


At the library again for just a teeny bit of time so I'll resort to some random tidbits of news and thoughts:

*Had a great time at my college homecoming this past weekend. As always, it was fun to see old friend and make new ones at Mississippi University for Women's annual gathering. My daughter B and I did a campus tour on Friday and met profs. We attended a stirring and well-written play based on past days at MUW. We laughed and hung out with alums and present day students at a gorgeous mansion (the Lee Home), Waffle House, the Old Maid's Gate for The Long Blue Line, the Baptist Student Union Luncheon, and the Troubadour Social Club party. And I had an interesting experience with a two-seater toilet stall. But I'll have to save that story for another time!

*After homecoming, we joined hubby and the rest of the kids for supper and visiting with his parents who live just outside of Columbus on a river that the kids love swimming in whenever they get the chance.

*Sunday was a blessed day of rest. After church and a Tex-Mex lunch in the RV, it was time for good books, chocolate covered cookies in bed followed by a long nap. I'm so glad God ordained Sunday to be a time to recover and relax.

*The house rebuilding is coming along. Some rooms have been painted. The new wiring is almost completed. The stone fireplace/chimney has been soda blasted to remove the smoke. And some new framing has begun. Our contractor is now saying he hopes to have it done by the end of June. WOW! Daughter B might leave for Romania and come home to a new house!!!

*I'm praising God that hubby picked up an $80 check from the consignment store today. Pray that I'll know who and how God wants me to use the money for missions. In case you don't know, we put things in consignment stores (much of it donated from friends and family) and use the money to support ministry work, primarily in Africa and Swaziland. It is such a blessing to get to bless others in this way.

*Please keep praying for us as we live close and cozy in our RVs and we work through the emotions related to the fire. Last week was much better for me than the week before but it is amazing how certain stresses get to us in different ways.




Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I've got nine minutes on the library pc to give you just a bit of our news. So here goes:

*FINALLY got all the post-fire cleaning up done!!!! PRAISE GOD!!! What a burden lifted.

*I'll be going up this weekend for my college homecoming. It will be so good to see Columbus folks and MUW friends. I'll be taking my 14 year old daughter with me as she is strongly considering attending The W in 2 or 3 years.

*We are starting to shop for new contents for our house. I've never gone out before and just bought furniture. So many things to think about. Wondering about IKEA. And do quality couches really have to cost around $1500????!???

*Oldest daughter A is making plans to go to the West Coast, Nevada, and CO this summer for a few weeks. She'll be visiting members from her AIM Swazi team, staying with her paternal grandma, checking out her top college options, and seeing our dear friends the Leggetts.

And with that, I am out of town. Gotta get a boy to his drumming lessons.


Friday, April 09, 2010


This week has been the hardest for me since the fire. I bottomed out emotionally on Wednesday. It isn't the fire itself or even the stuff we lost or living in confined spaces, it was the stress related to cleaning and rebuilding. I just felt so overwhelmed, not up to meeting all the demands, and alone. I cried more that evening than I've cried in a very long time. I struggled with hurt and anger and immense stress.

Folks prayed for us at church and hubby stayed home yesterday to talk to builders and help with some of the work that was needing to be done with stuff. Yesterday really helped me and then today completely banished the blues. A homeschool family and some other friends connected to our church came over and worked really hard. We are really getting a lot done and the end of the cleaning up process is in sight.

But please keep praying for us. This aspect has been 100 times more difficult than the actual fire. God had been preparing me to let go of stuff and I was so thankful that my girls weren't harmed. I wasn't prepared for how overwhelmed I'd feel during the cleaning and rebuilding season.

I know that God uses all of this for His glory and my good. I'm trying to hold onto that. I'm also reminded afresh of how good I do have it. This is just a short season in my life. I've thought a lot over the last few weeks of people living in 3rd world countries who face much worse day after day, week after week, even year after year.

I think of those sweet grannies in Swaziland who are widowed and raising 10 or 20 or more orphans on their own.

I think of those refugees in Haiti who don't have insurance and are living in tent cities.

I think of those Christians imprisoned for their faith and living isolated in prison cells.

I think, and think, and think and pray that God helps me keep it all in perspective and not slip into despair, pity, and bitterness.

God has been so good to us. And so many friends have helped in so many ways. I have to do my part and take every thought captive not giving into the lies that tell me no one cares or that I can't make it.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me...even praise Him in the trials and work daily on what needs to be done, not worrying about tomorrow for my Father cares for me.

And for you, too.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


We will be working on our house again this Saturday. We've got a lot of cleaning of stuff that needs to be done. It is the slow kind of work that requires washing, scrubbing, and sorting. We really hope that with help, this will finish us up.

If Saturdays are bad for you, you can also come out during the week.

If you want to help out, just give me a call or message me thru facebook.

Thanks so much!

Monday, April 05, 2010


I am writing a post about our Easter weekend but it feels so strange to be doing so without photos.

I admit it.

My name is Elysa Mac and I am a camera addict.

Don't get me wrong, I did take a million more photos than the three my kids wanted me to take, but because we don't have access to our pc at this time and I'm having to use random computers whenever, I still am not able to put photos on my blog.

So this is where we take a trip to the past. Just like in the olden days when folks listened to radio shows and had to imagine the scenes for themselves, so you'll have to do so here on my blog.


On Friday night, our church's servant team celebrated a Passover meal together. My husband handled the symbolic seder part of it as he explained how so many of the elements point us to Jesus and how He has delivered us from the bondage of sin. It was beautifully done (picture white candles, tulle, and beautiful, seasonal plates) and the big meal was shared together was full of new, taste treats such a mushroom lasagna using matzoh sheets for the noodles and a broccoli kugel (casserole) that little Miss M had 4 or 5 servings of!

Saturday found me shopping for last minute Easter things and painting at Olde Tyme Commissary. The Easter season is even busier for the OTC folks than Christmas as our handpainted baskets, buckets, and eggs are a long-time tradition in these parts for hundreds of families.

Sunday morning meant giving the kids their chocolate crosses (that we finally tracked down at a Wal-Mart about 45 minutes south of us) before getting ready for a special Resurrection Sunday celebration at Restoration Church. Our three oldest were part of a moving drama that centered around freedom in Jesus. A special communion service was the centerpiece of the service. Families came down together to receive the elements from the cell group pastors and be prayed over. It ended with some rousing, celebration music done as only full-gospel Southerners can do! And yes, have fun picturing THAT part of the day!

We then came home, took lots of photos, listened to lots of complaining about the photo that "someone-not-to-mention-any-names" wanted to do in a circle on the grass (wait til you see and hear THAT story!), ate hamburgers with two teenage friends joining us (Hi Megan and Lillie!), then naps. After our God ordained time of rest, we dyed eggs, did the Resurrection eggs and read Benjamin's box, hunted for the dyed eggs, ate pizza and Easter cake, and watched a cartoon version of Ben Hur.

And then we rested again.

Live is good.

And it is all because of Jesus.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


I pray that each of you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus loved you so much He died so you can have new life.

I pray that you will experience the amazing freedom that comes from resting securely in His love.

I pray that the knowledge that He was passionate enough about you to be broken for you will bring the complete healing that you need in your heart.

I pray that you will fall so in love with Him that all the trials and hurts of this world will pale in comparison to His beauty.

Love to you all and HAPPY EASTER!

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Please! Pray for me. I'm really dealing with a lot of stress right now. Some days it is pretty low level but some days or some hours it is full-blown, deep-fried ANXIETY! I'm even having more and more dreams that are reflecting this. Waking from a particularly yucky one is NOT the way I like to start my day.

It isn't that really horrible things are happening, it is just the constant demands being placed on me...and others in the family as well. It is a steady stream of "you need to decide this now" or "we need this right away" or "you must go here and there and everywhere as soon as possible". For a woman who was used to spending 3 or 4 days out of every week not going anywhere at all, this is very trying.

I know it isn't forever. I know that eventually we WILL have all the stuff cleaned up from the fire and this alone will make things a lot easier. I know that eventually we will have replaced all the things we have to have right away...or feel like we need right away...such as undies and socks and trashcans and pretty eyeshadow. I know that in just a few months we will be moving into an amazingly restored/rebuilt home so much nicer than we've ever lived in before. But for now, it is stressful. And I don't like feeling this way. And I don't like that I'm not letting the peace and love of Jesus carry me through it so I don't snap at my kids and get frustrated with my sweet husband and kick the dog. Okay, so I didn't kick the dog....yet.

ANYWHOOOO...pray for me, okay?

Thanks. I really, really need it.

And I really, really need Jesus.

A lot.

Every. Single. Day.

What am I saying? Every single milli-second!