Friday, May 20, 2011


A little over three years ago, I returned from Swaziland, Africa, heartbroken.

I had lived there nearly two decades before and had never quit loving that country. Returning just stirred back up that love and seeing the harsh things that many were facing due to drought and the HIV/AIDS pandemic had me wanting to not just visit short-term, but to go live there for the rest of my life. I wanted to be there every single day rocking babies, singing Jesus songs with little children, feeding starving orphans, and encouraging those precious mothers, grandmothers, and others struggling to take care of so many in need.

Part of the heart break at the time was because my husband didn't feel that call. He was struggling with his own hard issues and the orphans in Swaziland weren't where his heart was. As he fought depression and darkness, I struggled to be strong for him and full of the love and joy that he needed from me. To say that the time after I returned from Africa was a difficult season is an extreme under statement.

I can remember standing at the kitchen stove one day sobbing and crying to God. As things looked at the time, I didn't even know if I'd ever see Africa again. And God told me that I had to lay it down for that season. I had to pray for Swaziland and love Swaziland but be quiet and focus on loving my husband.

My husband needed to know that he and our marriage was my priority. He needed to know that my life was with him wherever that might be.

And it broke my heart.

But I knew I had to do it.

I knew my husband needed to see how much I valued him. After all, he had told me that sometimes he felt like I loved Swaziland more than I loved him.

He had to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was my beloved for now and for always.

I won't go into a lot of details for now, but suffice it to say, that just a few days after my stoveside sobbing, my darling man came home from work and told me that he had realized he could retire in a few years and we could move anywhere God called us...even Swaziland.

And over the next couple of years, through a series of God-ordained events, we were able to travel to Swaziland together. We prayed before we went that God would make his will very evident to us. Of course, I wanted Jim to love Africa. My heart's desire had only grown. I day dreamed and night dreamed of Swaziland and a life lived there once again.

Within two days of being in Africa, Jim told me that he could definitely see himself living there and after about a week, he said that he knew it was God's will for us to move there.

My dream was coming true.

But in know, it wasn't really my dream.

It was the dream GOD gave me as His precious gift.

His precious, precious gift of love.

Growing up, we often have dreams. Some are totally unrealistic...after all, my daughter Laura Grace wanted to be the Queen of England when she was about six. Others are not so crazy but the living out of reality just makes those dreams fade away into nothing but memories of dreams.

But some dreams are different. They are the plans that God has for our lives. They are the good things He has had in mind for us before we were even born. These are the dreams that never completely are forgotten even when they may be pushed aside for a season.

Twenty-one years ago I left Swaziland and said that I hoped I return one day. And then God took me on an amazing journey of grace and faith and marriage and mommyhood and ministry. He let me face trials and struggles and even death. I lost ministries and friends and five babies. I almost even walked away from Him due to the pain and the confusion.

But He was faithful and just and loving. He had plans for me and they did not include me walking away forever.

He had plans for my children to grow up in Him and go out into the world taking his light to the nations.

And He had plans for me to return to Swaziland and love His precious little ones.

But before this dream could come true, I had things to learn and see and discover.

To my puny human eyes, temporary set-backs and losses seemed like death.

But they were just part of the greater, eternal picture to prepare me for the dream come true.

One day I'll be living surrounded by the green mountains of Swaziland and looking down into sweet brown faces knowing that all the pain and waiting was worth it.

My God-given dream is absolutely worth it. And the dreams He has planted in you are worth it, too.


Lydia said...

Oh, wow, Elysa. I've only heard bits and pieces of your story, but this post has me in tears, happy tears, for you and your family. Wow! God is so good! Thank you for the encouragement. I'm thankful for as a friend and fellow W Girl. :)

Elysa said...

Yes He is! And I'm very grateful that God has brought you into my life as a friend and fellow W Girl, too. Who woulda thunk it 20 years ago when we were in church together except then I was the one who was a young married and YOU were just a wee little thing.

sari2430 said...

Wow. I've never heard the full story. God has worked in so many ways throughout your life, Miss Elysa!

Elysa said...

Yes, He has. But this is just a teeny, teeny bit of the story. All the ways that God has brought this together and the details He has woven thru the story are truly amazing.

I love Him so much.