Sunday, October 31, 2010

WELL, I WAS....

...going to reveal the identity of that masked man. I was going to give a wrap-up of yesterday's fun and post lots of other photos. I was going to do all that and more.

But I'm not.

I have just plum run out of time.

The photos and deets will have to wait for another day.


I know. I know. How can you stand it? The suspense will kill you.

Just hold on tight. I know it will be rough, but you are tough. You can do it. You will survive the wait.

Promise!

Til then, here's a couple of smiles to hold you over.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

WHO IS THAT MASKED MAN?



Er, masked boy? What mischief lurks just behind that bandana? And what events caused this normal child to take on such a mysterious air?

Stay tuned tomorrow (or maybe the day after) for the answers to these questions and many more.

Friday, October 29, 2010

LIGHT A CANDLE IN THE DARK...

...or in this case, buy a candle to light in the dark so that an amazing teenage girl I know can go and take some light into some dark places.



Okay, okay...I know...that probably scores a 10 on the Cheesy Scale, but I just couldn't resist. The reason? An amazing teenage girl that I know really is selling candles to raise money for a missions trip to Nicaragua so she can shine the light of Jesus in some dark and lonely places.

I've known Candace since she and my daughter B met at Vacation Bible School when they were just little girls. They were both new to the area and so they didn't already have a passel of cousins and friends to hang out with. They were the perfect match for each other since they were both the new kids in the neighborhood...but also because they were kindred spirits.

Our B came home all excited about her new friend "Kansas" and a little while later I got all excited because I found out that her family had been missionaries in Europe and knew some of my friends from my Journeyman missionary days.

Years later, the girls are still best friends and God has radically gotten a hold of both of their lives. They are both passionate about their faith and walking it out, not just talking about it. And this coming year, while our daughter is loving on orphans and extremely impoverished kids in Thailand, Candace will be doing the same but on the opposite side of the world.

Here is Candace's story and if you decide to help her, it would bless my socks off!




My name is Candace Jeffcoat. I’ve been best friends with Miss Elysa’s second oldest daughter for over half my life!

God has given me an amazing opportunity to go to Nicaragua next summer with Adventures in Mission. In years past, teams to Nicaragua visited orphanages and those who lived in the area trash dumps. They also ministered through local churches. Basically, I will most likely be loving on orphans and whoever God puts in my path.

I will be gone for about one month. My trip will cost $3,125.00 not counting my passport and a possible visa.

To help raise money, I am making and selling candles. If you are interested in buying any candles, you can email me at CandlesbyCandace@catlover.com.

Votives are $2 and ½ pint jelly jars are $5.50.

If you live in the area we can meet somewhere and I can give them to you in person. I’ll have to add postage if mailing them.

Also, if you are interested in donating to my trip you can:

1. Go to www.adventures.org/give and click on “Mission Participant”. Under “Choose a program” find “Ambassador” and fill in my name, Candace Jeffcoat.

2. Send a check (with "Candace's Trip" on the memo line) to:

Candace Jeffcoat
c/o Siloam Baptist Church
268 Siloam Church Road, Magee, MS 39111

Thank you so very much,
Candace

Thursday, October 28, 2010

SHE NEVER EXPECTED THIS ADVENTURE

My 15 year old daughter has some exciting news, some unexpected news. Here are the details:


Dear friends and family,


At fifteen years old, I find myself being able to take part in a God adventure I NEVER EXPECTED.


This past summer,the Lord made a way for me to go to Romania on a month-long mission trip with Adventures In Missions (AIM) and fulfill a long-time dream of working with gypsy children. However, one of the downsides to this trip was that I was unable to spend as much time with the kids as I would have liked and build stronger friendships. Fast forward to August and I was home again from my trip and earnestly praying for discernment concerning where God wanted me to go next year. I was expecting--and greatly hoping--that He would send me on another one month mission trip with Adventures in Missions, but a couple of months passed and God was silent.


I prayed that He would send me somewhere out of the states, somewhere hardcore with hurting orphan children I could love (why did I PRAY for this?!), somewhere that *I* wanted to go, and somewhere with AIM. Yet the entire time through this process, I was telling my friends and family that I was open to absolutely anything the Lord wanted me to do ... but I wasn't. I obviously had a lot of criteria that God's plan had to fit into. I had Him stuck rather tight into a box until I realized that I wasn't open I to anything I didn't want. Then, out of desperation, I prayed and told my Father that I finally was really open to anything that HE wanted. That night I was presented with this incredible experience:


THAILAND.


Thailand, with its population comprised of less than 1% Christians. Thailand, with its poor people that live on less than $1 dollar a day. Thailand, with its approximately 2 million women and children involved in prostitution. Thailand, Thailand, oh Thailand! And I'm going there? Yes, I AM.


The Espys, a couple that my family has been friends with for several years, will be moving to Northern Thailand in less than three weeks to live and work with Michael Johnson's Northern Thailand Impact Ministries (N.T.I.M.). I will be leaving sometime after mid-April to stay with them for at least two months. While I'm there, we will work at an orphanage N.T.I.M. started for children rescued from abuse, abandonment, extreme poverty, and were at risk of being sold into prostitution. I will be able to interact with them almost DAILY, enabling me to build the close friendships I wished for in Romania. There is also an English Class outreach, a ministry for HIV/AIDS victims, an Open Doors program that provides street children a place to go that is safe and will get them off of the streets and out of begging for a few hours, a rural tribe outreach, and a church.


Everything I prayed for has taken the form of Thailand perfectly and I honestly cannot WAIT for this spring. I know that the Lord has incredible plans for this adventure and it will be something that will have a lasting impact upon me. And thankfully, the entire trip isn't going to cost that much, either! Turns out that plane tickets to Southeast Asia are rather affordable, as long as you buy them extremely far in advance. And then my living expenses for the entire two months there won't amount to any more than $300.


The only way I'm going to be able to go to Thailand will be with my friends' and family's support. I need so much prayer, as do the Thai people. There is so much spiritual darkness there. I need prayer that I will be able to raise all my money to go ahead and buy my ticket within the next month or so, and that traveling itself will be very smooth (I have, like, a BAJILLION layovers! Yikes.). Please, if you feel God leading, I need all the financial support I can get --- any and everything helps to reach a goal of appoximately $,1400. But not only that, I TRULY do need your prayer support.


Thanks and in Him,
Betsie


My blog:
http://betsie-daredtomove.blogspot.com/


The post about my trip:
http://betsie-daredtomove.blogspot.com/2010/10/i-am-going-to-thailand.html


N.T.I.M's site:
http://gontim.org/main/category/blogs/michael-johnson

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WHICH END WILL YOU HELP LIFT?


"If ten men are carrying a log -- nine of them on the little end and one at the heavy end -- and you want to help, which end will you lift on?"
.

-- William Borden, as he reflected on the numbers of Christian workers in the U.S. as compared to those among un-reached peoples in China

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

THE ONE WHO CARED FOR ME



It is always hard to see someone we care about hurting. As a parent, there is a unique pain when our child is hurting and we can't fix it. As a grown child, their is also a unique pain when our parent is the one who is suffering.

When we were little, our parents --- usually our moms --- were the ones who we would turn to when we were feeling sick. We trusted that they would make things better. Whether it was just a kiss for a boo-boo, a snuggle in the rocking chair when we felt bad, or some good old, chewable, orange, children's aspirins (remember those?) when we had a fever and headache, we knew that our parents would do whatever it took to make us feel all better.

But now my mom is the one who is not feeling good. And she's been feeling bad for a while. It just seems like the last couple of years, it has been one thing after another. My step-dad died three years ago and my grandmother's condition has really deteriorated, so my mom has had a lot on her emotionally. But over the last several months, the physical "not feeling well" has escalated and now she's the one who needs to be made "all better".

She emailed me today asking me and Jim to pray for her. She's gone to doctor after doctor and taken medication after medication to no avail. She is having leg pain --- for which she is seeing a chiropractor for --- and dizziness and tremors. Doctors have tried various things for the latter and now she is scheduled to go see a neurologist.

She is forcing herself to do the things that have to be done but this constant pain and dizziness is wearing her down.

She needs to be healed of this pain and suffering.

She needs God to lift her spirits and bring her the kind of peace that passes and understanding that only He can bring.

She needs God to move in a mighty, mighty way.

Would you please join with me in praying for my sweet, sweet mama?

Her name is Evelyn and I know she is very precious to our Lord.

Thanks in advance,
Elysa

Sunday, October 24, 2010

OUR BEAUTIFUL GIRL!

One of the biggest blessings during our trip to Swaziland was getting to spend time with our sponsored child and visit her home. Here are some photos of beautiful Banele:



If you would like more information on sponsoring a child at the Beveni Carepoint, visit our group leader's website:

http://moms4change.net/

Saturday, October 23, 2010


ARE YOU LIKE I WAS?


Maybe some of you out there are like I was a couple of years ago. I had reached a point in my life where God woke me up and showed my life for what it really was....nice, easy, and safe. It was also selfish, lazy, and not very loving. I had been hurt a lot and fed up with people and so had unconsciously made life choices that insulated me from messy, hurting people. I was only doing things that benefited me and mine. I was only investing in relationships that wouldn't get too complicated or demanding.

As a result, I got very far away from the heart of God.

Sure, I was still a Christian.

And He loved me.

But He didn't love the fact that I wasn't loving those who are very, very precious to Him....His least and lost, His orphans and widows.

Once I woke up to the state of my heart and life, then I was responsible.

I could no longer just live for me and mine.

I had to get out of my comfort zone and put myself, and my family, back into situations that would bring us into contact with those who were hurting and hungry and in bondage and scared and messy. I had to make the choice to follow the way of Jesus and His cross, dying to self for the sake of others, or find ways to justify staying the same. And really, in the light of scripture, there is no justification for a Christian to cut themselves off from the people out there who desperately need God's love.

But if you are a Christian who wants to do more, you want to live more sacrificially and practice pure religion, that of caring for the orphans and widows (James 1:27), you might not know where to start. You might want to act but just don't know where to start.

Don't let that stop you.

Ignorance is no excuse. Especially in this day and age with all the networking tools we have. If you aren't living in my area, then I might not be able to give you specific ministries to plug into, but all you have to do is start googling or asking around and you'll be amazed at what you find. And ask God. If He knows your heart is to serve Him and those in need, then He'll connect you.

Love the elderly? Pick up a phone book and start calling nursing homes and retirement centers and find out if they need volunteers to lead Bible studies, do manicures, lead hymn sings, throw them a party, or just go hang out and visit.




Have a heart for fatherless boys? Contact children's homes in your area and see if they allow volunteers. Check with your YMCA and see if they have after school programs or inner-city kids. Start a backyard Bible club in a nearby housing project or trailer park. Adopt a single-mom led family and take her sons fishing, include them in your family's holiday events, or just have the boys over to help you change the oil in your car.



Wonder about the homeless now that it is getting colder? Hold a clothes drive and collect coats, sweaters, gloves, hats, and blankets to donate to a homeless shelter or inner-city ministry. Get your church to open up it's gym or fellowship hall to the homeless when temperatures dip dangerously low. Volunteer to work in an already established clothing closet ministry on a regular basis.



Hate that there are people in your own city going hungry? Open up a free food pantry at your church. Keep bags of easy-to-eat food along with a scripture verse pamphlet in the trunk of your car or behind your seat to give beggars you pass through out your day. Get involved with an ANGEL FOOD ministry in your area. Drop off bags of groceries anonymously at that elderly neighbor's house that you know is struggling to make ends meet.




Want to see prisoners come out of jail as new creations in Christ? Donate Bibles and Christian books to local jails and prisons. Get involved with Prison Ministry. Visit, pray for, and write to people you personally know who are incarcerated. Contact a local prison chaplain and ask how you can help.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many ways to walk out the command of Jesus to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit those in prison, give water to thirsty, provide shelter for the stranger.

Each and every one of us has been given unique gifts, talents, resources, and passions. Each of us has a unique set of people in our lives with their own needs. Each of us has the ability to do something to advance the Kingdom of God.

At different points in our lives we are able to do more or less. If you are a mom of 4 little kids with a husband who works long hours and no relatives in town to help out, then your time and energy is more limited. For you, all you might be able to do at this point is weekly take the kids next door to visit the elderly widower --- taking him store bought cookies, crayon scribbled pictures, and just some silly laughter to break up lonely monotony. If you're a middle-aged adult facing the empty nest, then you might have found yourself with hours of freedom to go full force into starting up a new ministry that requires hours of work every day.

But wherever you are on this spectrum, the important thing is that you are doing what God wants you to do for the people that He is calling you to love.

I can honestly tell you that one of the best things we have done for our family is to get involved with inner-city ministries in our metro-area. Whether it is going to WINGARD HOME --- the only place in our state that offers shelter to whole families and dads with children --- to wash dishes, rake leaves, and clean out the pantry or going to WE WILL GO to serve a meal, hand out free clothes, pray for folks, and build friendships, we are loving the least and the lost for Jesus. We are clothing the naked, bringing joy to those who are sorrowful, feeding the hungry, praying for the hurting, helping provide shelter for the homeless, building friendships with those who are lonely.




And not only are we doing for them, we are gaining as a result. Our time there is changing our family. It is keeping us focused on the heart of God. It is reminding us to not be wrapped up in things that don't matter like fancy house furnishings, expensive clothes, and even organizations and time commitments that in the long run don't matter in the light of eternity. It helps keep us from falling into the trap of shallow religion. It is causing us to love and care about the soul of our city and the individuals trapped there which motivates us to pray and give. It exposes us and our kids to on fire Christians who are amazing role models and spur them on to greater things for the Kingdom. It is something we can do together and thus makes our relationships stronger. And I can't help but think that it causes our Lord to smile upon us in a way that feels amazing.

There is truly no greater blessing than walking out the love of Jesus in this hurting world.

It is so worth leaving behind the selfish, safe life we were living.

Truly, to die to self is gain. And what you gain is eternal! It can't be burnt up or eaten by moths. It can't be repossessed. What you do will work together for your good, to make you more in the image of Christ. (Romans 8:28)

If you're local and want to break free from hum-drum, self-serving religion, we'd love to help you find where God wants you to serve.

Here are a couple of local ministries that could use your help and that you'd benefit from as well:

http://www.wingardhome.org/

http://www.wewillgo.org/Welcome.html

And if you'd like to go with us, that would be great! We go to WE WILL GO usually two or three times a month and usually every other Sunday. We'd be glad to either pick you up and take you with us or just plan on meeting you there.

Let me know if there is any thing I can do to help you find God's ministry niche. I'll be glad to pray for and with you and even talk thru different options.

He does have an amazing plan for you and those who need what you can bring to their lives! He will go with you and supply all that you need to fulfill His good purpose.

He promises you that!

Friday, October 22, 2010


THE NINTH ONE Our third born daughter celebrated her ninth birthday while Jim and I were in Africa. It was hard for me, as her mommy, to not be here on her special day. But my mom and her siblings celebrated with her, and then once we were back, we had a special dinner in her honor.

Often on my kids' birthdays, I interview them about their birthday celebrations and also about their present day life and what they hope for their future. Hence, here is an interview all about my beautiful, blonde daughter.

To get started, please tell me and my readers what you did on your actual birthday:

Well, we watched PRINCE CASPIAN. I got a hat from my best friend. I got sherbet ice cream.

So what did you do special on the day we celebrated with you?

We went shopping for my birthday presents and I bought stuff with my birthday money. I bought a LITTLEST PET SHOP SET, well, two. I bought a paint set, a 3-d chalk set. Then we had pizza bites and pizza for supper. And ice cream with blueberry cobbler. Then we opened up presents. I got lipstick, Cookies-and-Creme chocolate bar, a whale stuffed animal, crayons, clothes, socks, Silly Bands, and that's all.


That's a lot. You have a family that really loves you! So, tell me about you right now. What is your favorite color?

Orange and red.

Really? I didn't know that. I thought it was purple or blue.

No.

Okay, what is your favorite food?


Hmmm...that's hard. I don't know.


Well, what are a few of your favorite things to eat?


Super Hero ice cream, bacon and sausage and pepperoni pizza, sherbet icecream, blueberry cobbler, pumpkin pie, apple pie....I can't think of anything else now.


What is your favorite animal?


Stuffed animal?


Any animal.


That's too much!


Well, top favorite animals then.


Cats and.....deers. Baby kittens. That's my top.


What do you like doing most when you have the choice?


Going to a movie and playing the wii. Oooh....and computer.


What's your favorite toy?


Too hard, too hard. But probably Legos.

More than LITTLEST PET SHOP?

Ye-a-h.


But you always spend all your money on LPS.

Legos are expensive.

What's your favorite movie or TV show?


For TV show, I would say Season 2 of SUITE LIFE ON DECK. And favorite movie? PRINCE CASPIAN.


What college do you think you'd like to attend?


I don't know.

What career do you think you'd like to pursue?


Art.

What kind of art?


Drawing art.


Are there any new things you learned to do this year or you got really good at doing?

Well, I learned how to ride a bike. And I got really good at it, too. I'm getting good at cursive and I can skate really, really good.


What is your favorite subject?

Explode the Code.

Phonics and reading?


Yes.
Do you want to get married?

Ummmm....I don't know.


So you don't know if you want to get married and be a mom?


It might hurt.


Yeah, it usually does. But it is well worth it. After all, I got you out of the deal!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

THE SIREN SONG OF AFRICA


By Jim MacLellan, Elysa's husband

I love to read stories of adventurers. Several times I had read stories by adventurers and hunters who went to Africa and wrote that something about it kept drawing them back again and again. That stuck in my mind, how can a place that was more wild, harsh, uncomfortable and downright dangerous than where they came from (generally Europe or America) so grab a hold of a person that they had to go back again and again, or even leave the familiar and comfortable behind for good and live there? Until now, however, it stuck in my mind in a poetical sort of fashion, like a good song, or a picture, or a catchy phrase, not real but part of a greater myth. Now I get it in a real way because, you see, it happened to me. I have been to Africa and now I hear a siren's song that calls to me across the ocean.

Huh?!? Weren't sirens part of mythology who sang such compelling songs (ok, bewitching) that lured men to certain death? Doesn't the term, "siren song" refer to an appeal that is hard to resist but that, if heeded, will lead to a bad end? So why am I, as a Christian, using an obvious reference to pagan myths? Because that is what happened to me in Africa. I began to hear a song in my heart that bids me to come and die ... to myself.

Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a German pastor who was martyred for his faith by the Nazis) once said, "When Jesus bids a man come, He bids him come and die." Our Lord Jesus said that if any man would come after him, he must first take up his cross and then follow. The cross, an instrument of torture and death. In John 12:24, Jesus said that unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and DIES (emphasis mine), it remains a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds. Now, that admonition from Scripture is universal, we're to practice dying to ourselves and to our sin nature wherever we may be, and I had been trying to live this out, but Africa really brought it out in me. When you see children picking thorns out of their feet while playing soccer, or mothers going down to a river that has run dry and digging until they find water, or people that, it would seem to us Westerners, have nothing to hope for, yet they still find joy in life, then you can't help but die more and more to your own little world. I want my life to be poured out like a drink offering (as Paul said).

So I challenge you, and I especially challenge young Christian men (because I saw many Christian women, but not many Christian men over there), to come and see. Listen to the siren song of Africa --- or Haiti or Thailand or Mexico or anywhere else in the world --- and let it work in your heart. Let the song lure you to come and die ... to yourself, and then, in the process, find more abundant life than you ever imagined.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

HUNDREDS OF LANGUAGES


“There are hundreds of languages in the world,
but a smile speaks them all.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

I CAN AT LEAST READ ABOUT IT

If I can't be in Africa right now, I can at least read about it. Here are a few of my favorite books that either are about Africa or at least has parts set in or related to that continent.

This first set is non-fiction:

LOVE MERCY --- Lisa Samson and Ty Samson

WHEN SHE WAS WHITE: THE TRUE STORY OF A FAMILY DIVIDED BY RACE* --- Judith Stone

LOVE IN THE DRIEST SEASON: A FAMILY MEMOIR* --- Neely Tucker

RED LETTERS --- Tom Davis

THERE IS NO ME WITHOUT YOU --- Melissa Day Greene

POWER LINES: TWO YEARS ON SOUTH AFRICA'S BORDERS --- Jason Carter


AN ORDINARY MAN: THE TRUE STORY BEHIND HOTEL RWANDA --- Paul Rusesabagina

INTO AFRICA: THE EPIC ADVENTURES OF STANLEY AND LIVINGSTONE --- Martin Dugard


FAITH LIKE POTATOES --- Angus Buchan

WHEN A CROCODILE EATS THE SUN* --- Peter Godwin

The second set is fiction:

CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY --- Alan Paton


THE ROAD TO HOME --- Vanessa del Fabbro


THE PASSION OF MARY-MARGARET --- Lisa Samson


SCARED --- Tom Davis


NO. 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY series --- Alexander McCall Smith

OUTCASTS UNITED --- Warren St. John


RESURRECTION IN MAY --- Lisa Samson


THE LAST MANGO IN TEXAS --- Ray Blackston


LISTENING FOR LIONS --- Gloria Whelan

DIAMONDS IN THE SHADOW --- Carolyn B. Cooney

*I do remember there being a little bit of off-colored language in these books, but the importance of the story outweighed the use of profanity in my opinion --- just wanted to give that as a heads up.

Do you have any to add to the list? Please leave a comment if you do. I'm always looking for good African books.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

IMAGINE....





"Imagine if a third of the kids at your local primary school were AIDS orphans. That's a reality in Africa where the parents of 13 million children have been killed by AIDS."

Bono, U2


To find out how you can be involved in helping African AIDS orphans, visit the Children's HopeChest website: http://www.hopechest.org/

Saturday, October 16, 2010



REJOICE WITH THOSE WHO REJOICE





By Erica Zeiler, one of our Beveni teammates

One morning as we were at the [Beveni] care point waiting for the food to be ready for the kids, we started singing a few songs with the preschoolers (any where from 1 yr olds to 6 yr olds). We went through the familiar ones, and then they started singing a song that said,

“The Lord is going to bless someone today....it may be you, it may be me, it may be somebody else.”

I was humbled by the fact that these kids, who have so little, who have been through so much, and who have a very hard life ahead of them are singing about how they can rejoice when others around them are blessed.

So often our first impulse when someone near us is blessed is to ask where our blessing is, or how we can earn it, or what we didn’t do right....yet true community and God-honoring love comes when we put others before ourselves. To be able to truly rejoice when someone else gets blessed, and not ask "why didn't I get that?" To be able to truly grieve with someone who grieves, without our first thought being, "Whew! I'm glad that didn't happen to me!"

God took me half way around the world to teach me through a bunch of preschoolers that I have a long way to go before I can say with integrity that I live out the command in Romans 12:15...

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

To read more about our trip from Erica's perspective, visit her blog: http://intheblinkofmyeyes.blogspot.com/

Thursday, October 14, 2010

THE FUTURE IS UNKNOWABLE --- COMMIT ANYWAY


By Seth Barnes, founder of ADVENTURES IN MISSIONS

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison


Too many people want to keep their options open and miss the opportunity that commitment affords. If I could give my children's generation a gift, I'd get them out of their coffee shops and parents' basements and I'd give them the gift of commitment. You'll never find your future until you launch - you find it as you commit.

Paul set out for Asia and wound up in Europe. While planting churches in this new land he was shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake, and almost died multiple times. He was at the center of God's will.

Edison set out to invent the light bulb and failed so many times that he declared, "We now know a thousand ways not to build a light bulb".

Columbus set out to find a passage to the Indies and discovered America. He embarked with none of the usual tools to guide him, saying, "For the execution of the voyage to the Indies, I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps."

Discovery rarely happens by going in a straight line or hedging your bets. Usually it requires full-fledged commitment. And that's especially true for those trying to figure out their call or purpose in life.


UVA Business School Dean, Robert Bruner, wrote the following about the process:

"I want the freedom to choose; I want to maximize my options," a student once said to me, in anguishing over his job search and explaining his career strategy. I averred that maximizing options is a risk management device, not a career strategy and that his approach would yield little freedom and a great deal of chaos. Instead of freedom, he would become a slave to opportunism. I said that one will have to choose eventually; and the sooner he did it, the sooner he would gain the sense of release that comes from commitment. But the reply fell on deaf ears. Some talented people can get lost in the stream of opportunities that float nearby. Instead, getting found inevitably entails making a commitment, getting rooted in something such as a direction, some values, a vision, a partner, or a place. As you head into this recruiting season, will you be lost? Or will you be found?

It is said that Columbus discovered the Americas. But that implies a purposeful aim of finding the Americas. Instead, he wanted to find India. Columbus was lost. He significantly mis-estimated the circumference of the Earth and ran aground on the major westward barrier between Spain and India. Lucky for him. We should celebrate his courage and leadership skills. But to say that he really knew where he was going may be saying too much. Arguably, the Americas found him.

Columbus sailed without the benefit of intelligence, mathematics, or maps. He journeyed on instinct and courage, qualities that certainly can help the business leader and the job seeker. He also had the theory that the world is round and believed that by sailing west, he would reach the Indies. He was a man with conviction and direction. Given how little Europeans knew about the world in 1492, Columbus was bound to find something new.


If you're trying to find yourself, it won't happen by hedging your bets. You need to do whatever prayer and research is reasonable and then commit. As you journey out from your safe harbor, inevitably you'll feel disoriented and uncomfortable. But it's the only way you'll find yourself.

*************************************

To read more of Seth's writings, visit his blog: http://www.sethbarnes.com/

And if you are struggling with this issue and would just like someone to interact with, I'd be glad to be a part of that discussion. I'll also be glad to pray! Just leave a message here or if you know me "in real life", give me a call or facebook me!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NOT CALLED???





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

William Booth, Founder of the Salvation Army

Monday, October 11, 2010

THE KIDS TAKE ON THE MOVE TO SWAZILAND

Okay, so as you have probably figured out by now. I like Swaziland. A lot. And now my husband does, too. And God definitely likes Swaziland a LOT and because He likes it a lot and WE like it a lot, He is going to let us move there. I personally think that this is pretty cool. Anyways, my kids are all okay with us moving there.

Which is also pretty cool.


I thought it would be fun to let them give their viewpoint of the upcoming move. Granted, it is still a couple of years away, but there is no time like the present to dream and plan.

Okay, so Miss M. As our resident 5 year old, what do you think about moving to Swaziland?

"I think moving to Swaziland is brilliant and all the kids will start to know that God loves them better and that I'll teach them how to play baseball because they never knew and I'll teach them how to read for the little kids and I'll take care of the orphans and feed them and I will make sure they all come to school and are not late. I'll set up a late of record of whose late and they'll get dollars if they are the good kids and then get to come to our African house that we built and let them see the repairmen and Mama loved them. And then, the last but not least, is I want to tell you I'm giving away my black dress to a little girl that is 5 years old and will like it and that's it! And one more question, that everybody in the world will know that Africa is the goodest place to go and that Africa, I am going to love because I am getting my own baby sister and that whenever it is not our bedtime, I am going to tell Baby Rosie that she will be the goodest sister in the whole entire town and that she will become a Christian and know about You God and will know the language of American is like 'hi', 'go', 'greenlight'."

Okay, so LG, what do you as a 9 year old want to tell us about our family moving to Swaziland?

"We are going to have so much fun and go on all these cool adventures! Like hunting, going on cool stuff, going to all these pretty waterfalls, going skydiving, going mountain climbing, and rollercoasters!!!!"


Ummm...you are NOT going skydiving.

"Why n----o------t?"

Because you are a kid.

"I won't be then".


Okay. You can have your dreams.

"I am."

Alright, Mr. T, what do you want to tell us about living in Swaziland. You'll be 10 or so by then.


"I am going skydiving no matter what! When I'm 18 that is! Then, I will go rubber canoeing, you know, in those rubber boats. KAYAKING! Then I'll go on a hunting trip. Then, the next year I will move out, but that's not in hand yet. I'm not going to talk about the stuff when I move. But first, I will go to the park that has the biggest waterfall. Then, I'll fall off the waterfall. And then I will hike back up. Okay, that's all."


WOW! Those kids have some big ideas. Wonder where they got them from?
YOU CAN DO GREAT THINGS!

You have everything you need to do great things in this world. You really do. And so do I.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

PRAY FOR US!

The Petersons have just moved to Swaziland to begin a life of loving God as they love His precious children that He brings into their lives. Some of these children are tiny babies, some are wrinkled grandparents, some are youth in the prime of their lives. All of them need Jesus and need our prayers.

Will you pray for them today? The Petersons and those they have been sent to love? Here are is a heartfelt prayer shared on their blog during their first few days in Africa:




Pray for us...the children of Swaziland. We like to sing and dance, hear stories, run, jump and cuddle on your lap. We love to kick soccer balls, but usually our playthings are rocks, sticks, rusty tin cans, discarded glass and plastic. We see many of the older children walking to school, proudly dressed in their various school uniforms. We hope to attend primary school, someday. Sadly, too many of us will start school but not be able to finish because we have no money to pay the fees. Our tummies grow large, not because we eat too many sweets; it is because we don't get the proper nutrition. Our noses run and get crusted over with dirt. Many of us have only one parent, as the other one may have left home to find work; or, perhaps has died from sickness. Some of us have no mommy or daddy, so we live on a homestead with a grandmother or auntie. We often have to walk several kilometers, all alone, in the hot sun to a carepoint for our one meal of the day. The carepoint is good for us, because we can sit with other children and not feel so lonely. For some of us, at the end of the day, we walk back home over the same red, dusty, thorn-covered pathways before the sun goes down for the night, to an empty homestead. For us, the nights are long and frightening. You see, we have nobody to hold us and whisper 'sweet dreams' into our ears. We are alone...the most vulnerable. Who will protect us from things that go bump in the night? Wild animals and dangerous snakes; or worse: evil grown ups that know we're alone in here...praying for morning to come. Please, pray for us!



Pray for us...the teenagers of Swaziland. We have had to grow up much too fast. We have seen things and heard things that most adults will never be exposed to. Many of us have had to bury one or both of our parents, usually while we hold on to younger brothers and sisters in their sorrow. Some of us live on a homestead with extended family...but for some of us we are the "grown-ups" of the family. We have to look after the little ones. We don't want to complain about that...but sometimes we just want to be young and carefree. We dream about attending university or even completing secondary school. For most of us, however, this will only be a dream. We often have too much time on our hands. With fewer and fewer adults to walk alongside of us, guiding us and instructing us in the ways of the world; we often find ourselves experiencing things that our bodies feel ready for but our hearts and minds are too young to handle. So, some of us have little ones of our own...also depending on us to provide for them. This becomes overwhelming to us; still just kids ourselves! Slowly, our dreams of hope and a future may melt away becoming more and more just about daily survival. Our childhood stolen because of circumstances beyond our control. Please, pray for us!




Pray for us...the adults of Swaziland. Our circles of community are shrinking with each passing year. We have lost husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and friends. We find ourselves young widows and widowers; single parents. For many of us not only are we young, single parents; we also are sick. We know that soon our children will be left alone trying to live a life here that is, often, full of hardship and difficulty. Just day to day chores are extremely time consuming and hard. We have to walk several miles just to collect enough water to get through the day...every day. Some of us have jobs that cause us to be away from home all day, or even days/weeks at a time. We are the fortunate ones, having work. Still, it often is not enough to supply everything our family needs. The school fees are often the first to go...our babies must eat, no!? Our community is often shrouded in secrecy and shame regarding things like illness, infidelity, addictions and abuse. We wonder if our neighbor hides any of the same sufferings. We would benefit so much from sharing our sorrows...but that is very foreign to us. Too often, we suffer in silence and isolation. This is a painful and lonely way to live. It is an even more tragic way to die...alone. Most of us believe in God and in Jesus Christ, His Son. However, very few of us have ever been truly discipled and deeply understand an authentic relationship with Him. This, alone, would change our lives...for eternity. Please, pray for us!





Pray for us...the go-gos of Swaziland. We are the oldest witnesses to what devastation has spread across our beautiful country. We are the grandmothers, the caregivers. We have buried so many of our husbands, so many of our adult sons and daughters. Our backs may be bent from cooking over open fires all day. Our shoulders may sag from the weight of carrying sacks of maize and beans on our heads. Our arms may ache from hauling gallons and gallons of water for miles and miles. Our faces may be covered with deeply creased lines from the oppressive sun, dusty winds and (mostly) from the countless tears we have shed for our families: for our people; our Swaziland. What remains strong, however, are our hearts and our resolve. We continue to carry the responsibility of caring for the least of these...the most vulnerable children. We feed them and watch out for them the best way we can with the resources we have available to us. We are slowly disappearing, as time marches on across Swaziland. We are growing tired and weary as we near the end of our days on this vast, red earth. We sometimes find ourselves looking out across the landscape...towards the mountains in the distance. What lies beyond them? Where is help coming from? When we finally are able to rest...who will take our place? By far, that is the heaviest burden we bear. Please, pray for us!


"I lift my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." ~ Psalm 121: 1-4


"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." ~ Micah 6:8

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." ~ Matthew 7: 13-14

"The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." ~ John 12:25-26

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." ~ James 1:27




To read more about what God is doing thru the lives of the Petersons in Swaziland, visit their blog: http://ericandjen.myadventures.org/