Friday, September 30, 2011


...or why we're taking the kids to Swaziland next year.

When Jim and were in Swaziland and God made it so clear that we're to move our family there, we immediately knew we wanted the kids to visit there before we moved. And over the last year, that's just been confirmed again and again.

We've had the blessing of spending time with missionaries who have lived overseas with kids and what we keep hearing in different ways is that we need to make the landing on the mission field as soft as possible for our family.

For some, like the Espys in Thailand, one of the things this entailed was getting a puppy and kitten for their daughter (and the wife, too). And believe me, when my kids heard this, it just fueled their pet dreams and got them fantasizing about puppies and kittens and ferrets and bunnies and ponies and gifaffe!

For another family, they made sure that they set aside one day or evening every week that was pure family fun time. This same missionary advised that the family get away for entire weekends at a time on a regular basis.

There are some organizations that won't even let a family with teenagers move onto the mission field. They've just seen these situations go bad too many times.

We hope that a lot of factors will make it different for our kids, that it will be a positive experience for them over all. Not that there won't be struggles, there will be. After all, we have struggles here in our own culture. But we're hoping that we're preparing them now as best as we can for their new life of living and loving in Swaziland.

We are able to look back now at the way we've raised them and see that God had His hand in our parenting all along the way, long before we knew He was calling us to move to Africa. Whether it is our zero-tolerance policy where food pickyness is concerned (because they will for sure be eating a lot of new and unusual foods) or the fact that they've been homeschooled for their whole lives (and will be educated that way in Africa, too), these aspects along with so many other aspects of their American lives will hopefully help ease the transition to their lives in Africa.

We have seen how deeply impacted Anna, Betsie, and David have been by their time spent in serving overseas. All three of them, as a result of their missions trips, have come back changed, willing to sacrifice for the "least and the lost", and very supportive of our decision to follow God's call to Swaziland. In fact, David has said on more than one occasion that he is actually excited about moving over there and serving God, as opposed to before his time in Peru when he was just going along with the move out of respect and obedience. We want to help provide this kind of experience for our other four children.

What we desire for our 2012 Swaziland trip is two-fold.

First, we want it to be a missions trip. We want to be used by God to encourage the missionaries, ministers, and Christians there as well as spend time loving on orphans and children-at-risk at carepoints. We will spend time at the Bheveni Carepoint, where we ministered last year and have two sponsored girls, and at the Moriah Carepoint in Big Bend. We hope to also get to visit some other points of ministry as well as make home visits.

Second, we want our kids to see what life will be like for them in their new home. We will spend time staying in the town we believe God is leading us to move to, attend church services, shop at stores, meet friends of mine from my living-in-Swaziland-during-the-80's days, go hiking in the mountains, visit the craft market, look at houses in preparation for buying one, see cool African animals, and spend lots of time with other missionary kids. I want my kids to be able to see that they are regular kids just like them with toys and computers and video games and, yes, pets. We want them to be able to talk to them about what it was like to move to Swaziland and what it is like to live there. And I want Jim and me to get to continue to learn from missionary parents about how we can make the landing as soft as possible for our family.

We know God has called us. We are going despite the obstacles, despite the concerns, despite the fears.

We believe strongly that God has amazing things planned for our family as we leave behind our life in Mississippi and move to Swaziland. We want to do all we can to help that transition go as smoothly as possible. There's no preventing the missing of loved ones, the yearning for pets left behind, and the struggles we will face that are just part of living in a 3rd world country, but we can do things that will help them cope with those emotions and stay focused on the gift that God is giving us.

Because truly, that's what this calling is, a blessing and honor that we want to be able to receive with prepared hearts full of thankfulness, joy, and faith.

And these are the reasons why we are taking our kids to Swaziland next year.

Please pray for us as we lay down padding and pillows for our big, fat, African landing.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Today is National Coffee Day. I personally am not a coffee drinker --- I've just never developed a taste for the brew but I do love the smell, appreciate the whole idea around it, and absolutely love a lot of coffee drinkers.

So, in honor of this auspicious day, I'm giving away a bag of truly fantastic coffee. This coffee is fantastic not only because it tastes great, but part of the proceeds from every single bag of it goes to support the ministry to the children and community of the Bheveni Carepoint in Swaziland. Ground-to-Cup is a roasting company that is passionate about fairly traded, freshly roasted coffee and is passionate about causes that have touched the lives of their team.

I'm going to give you lots of chances to win a 12 ounce bag of Bheveni Ground-to-Cup Coffee.

1. Just leave a comment with your contact information telling me what you love about coffee.

2. Share this post's link on your facebook. Tag me in it so I can see that you did, and also, post that you did in a separate comment from the number 1 comment.

3. Post about this give-away on your blog with a link back here to Graceland. Again, leave me a separate comment with a link to your post.

4. Share on fb or your blog about our fundraiser auction that we have going on this week to raise money for our upcoming trip to Swaziland. Leave me a comment telling me that you did this option with me tagged in your post. The link to the auction post is .

5. Share a link on your facebook or blog to the Bheveni website that tells more about the ministry and the coffee that benefits that ministry as well as how you can buy the coffee for yourself then leave me a comment letting me know. Remember, everytime someone buys a bag of coffee, it impacts lives in Swaziland. So this is an option that you can feel good about!

So there you have it, a lot of ways you can win this yummy bag of coffee. And did I mention? There are three great flavors you can choose from: Ethiopian, Sumatra Organic, and Columbia Organic.

Let the sharing and winning begin! I will do a random drawing from all the entries on Sunday evening at 5:00. So til then, get the word out and comment away!

Oh! And HAPPY COFFEE DAY! Though, for you coffee addicts out there, I think it is a given that Happy and Coffee just go together everyday.



My friend Danielle Brower, who is the adorable leader of the Bheveni Carepoint sponsors, has just donated a beautiful, hand-crafted, made-in-Swaziland, Timbali, coin purse to the give-away. So now, you will not just win some great coffee, but someplace to put the money you didn't have to spend on the java!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Today we offering two more chances to bid on earrings from Thailand and to help us pay for our Swaziland 2012 Trip.

The first item to auction today is a pair of dangly earrings with black beads. These earrings are about 4 inches long.

The second item is another pair of 4 inch, dangly earrings, this time with pink beads.

Both pairs were brought back from Jim when he took Betsie to Thailand this past spring. The bidding will begin on each at $5 with $2 added for shipping if you need them mailed.

To bid on them, leave a comment with the amount you are bidding and contact information. The auction will end Saturday night at midnight.

Thanks and remember, we are still collecting items to auction off so let us know if you have artwork, services to provide, gift cards, crafts, collectibles, or other items to donate.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


With less than a year to go before we take the millions of MacChildren to Swaziland for our half ministry, half this-is-your-new-life-get-ready-for-it-trip, it is time to get serious about the fund raising. We are estimating that we will need to have about $20,000 at least to cover airfare, lodging, food, van rental, etc. for 9 people.

We are trying to do everything we can to make the trip as economical as possible including considering the option of just finding someplace, like a church, that will let us sleep on their floor the majority of nights that we are there. We are also liquidating some of our own assets to help finance the trip.

That said, we still are looking at a bunch of money that needs to come in. And to get our airline tickets at good rates, we really need to purchase them as soon as possible.

I'll be honest. Sometimes it seems overwhelming and I start feeling stressed out. That's when I have to pray, trust, and take one step at a time. Ultimately, God is our source and provision but after much prayer, we believe that we have His go ahead to work towards bringing in the funds as well as provision that He wants to provide through offerings and supernatural means.

We hope to do one fund raiser a month until we have raised all our money along with lots of online auctions like we did to raise money for Anna, Betsie, and David's mission trips they went on this past summer.

We have been given some wonderful items to auction off online to raise money for our Swaziland trip. We also bought some things while in Thailand that we'll be auctioning including some earrings I'll be showing you at the bottom of this post.

If you have anything you'd like to donate, let me know.

Items that would be great to give and easy to auction off include:

*Donated services (like housecleaning, tires rotated, photography session, oil change, lawn care, hair cut, tax prep, closets organized, manicures, etc.)

*Artwork and crafts (paintings, knitted hats, crocheted scarves, wall hangings, jewelry, etc.)

*Gift cards

*Blog banner design

*Home-cooked meal, baked goods, deer sausage, home-canned jellies, etc.

*Books (especially nice if signed by author)


*Collectibles (one friend donated a cross made out of a famous missionary's home, another friend donated British magazines about the recent royal wedding)

*Items from other countries


*Sports team related items

*Missions or Christian themed t-shirts (maybe you had some leftover from your own fundraiser?)

*Gift baskets of assorted items (baby gifts, toiletries, regional foods, etc.)

*And so much more!

This is a great way to help us if you desire to give but don't have the money. Most of us have items or services that we could donate that wouldn't cost us a dime. For instance, a missionary friend had several things that he had brought back as gifts but hadn't given away. He gave them to us and we made a lot of money from them. Another friend is a massage therapist. She donated a half hour massage and we made a lot of money on that one.

If you don't live near me, when the winner is announced, you can send the item directly to the person who won the auction if it is something that can be shipped.

Another option is to hold an online auction yourself on our behalf. It is very easy to do. Just post about our story and an item or service you want to auction off on your blog, website, facebook, etc. Set a deadline and then have people bid. At the end of the bidding period, whoever bids the most, wins! You either mail the item to them or deliver it in person. This is a great option as it taps into a group of bidders that we probably don't know.

Thanks in advance! We can't do this on our own so any and all help is greatly appreciated.

And now to kick off our first Send-the-MacLellans-to-Swaziland auction, I've got two lovely pairs of costume jewelry earrings that Jim bought while he was in Thailand with Betsie.

They are both gold, big, and glimmery. Perfect for someone who likes shine!

The first pair is comprised of cascading leaves. These flirty 4-inch long earrings would be perfect for fall fashions. The bidding on them will start at $7 with $2 added for shipping.

The second pair is also 4 inches long. It is a cluster of circles dangling down to form a loose, oblong shape. The bidding on them will also start at $7 with $2 added for shipping.

To bid on either or both pairs, leave a comment with your name, contact information, how much you are bidding, and if you want the "leaf earrings" or the "circle earrings". The bidding will end Friday night at midnight with the winner announced on Saturday.

Happy bidding! Oh...and would you please consider passing this on to others who might want to help? And keep on praying for us. We can never get too much prayer covering.

Thanks so much!


IMPORTANT UPDATE: Friday, 10:12 pm

The auction has officially ended but since there were no bidders on the cascading circles earrings, I will extend that auction til 5:00 this Sunday. Michelle H has won the leaf earrings.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Yesterday, we spent a few hours in Jackson at WE WILL GO. We joined with our brothers and sisters in Christ as we praised the Lord and fought for the souls of those in desperate need of salvation and freedom. The time of worship, prayer, and service was truly intoxicating.

I love when He fills me up to overflowing as only He can. It is inebriating. I get drunk on His love and goodness but have none of the nasty day-after results that come from the highs of drugs or the drunkenness of alcohol. This kind of ecstasy is pure. It only builds up. It only draws me closer to the Lord and He is so, so good.

I am head over my heels, out of my mind, crazy in love with HIM!

The David Crowder Band expresses it beautifully with their INTOXICATING:

Intoxicating You are to me
Illuminating You are to see
Truly breathtaking You are to breathe
Sending my head swimming You are, You see

And I've lost my mind, I'm sure to find
Need to apologize for my
Lack of inhibition, for my belligerent condition
But with You this near I'm dizzy

Inebriating You are to me
Completely captivating You are to see
Sending my world spinning You are, You see

And now I find a blurry line
Here between You and I
Raise the cup, drink 'til I'm full
Sing 'til I can't, 'til my voice is gone
And my head is spinning

La, la dee da
La dee da, dee da
Dee da da da
Hey la, la dee da
La dee da, dee da
Dee da da da

Illuminating You are to see
Truly breathtaking You are to breathe
Sending my head spinning You are, You see

And now I find a blurry line
Here between you and I
Raise the cup, drink 'til I'm full
Sing 'til I can't, 'til my voice is gone
And my head is spinning dizzy

If I'm out of my mind it's You, You
'Cause I'm crazy in love with You, You
Inebriated by You, You
'Cause I'm head over heels with You, You

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Today my littlest man turned eight. I have to admit that now he is no longer a little boy, but a big boy...honestly, that makes me a bit sad but it does not make him sad. He relishes being older, well, he doesn't relish the added chores, but he sure does like the perks that come with growing older. And, he says that this has been one of his best birthdays.

His birthday has actually been spread over a couple of days.

On Friday, he was able to invite one friend over for a small family party complete with the cake of his choosing, a HotWheels decorated cheesecake, and the opening of a couple of gifts. After his friend left, we ate the supper he had selected --- pizza bites, fruit salad, and macaroni and cheese --- then watched DESPICABLE ME followed by the original STAR WARS movie once little Miss M was in bed. This was his first time to see it and the watching of A NEW HOPE is a rite of passage in our household.

Today is his real birthday so the merriment continued. T was able to pick out his menus so breakfast was a doughnut bread pudding, sausage biscuits, and strawberries. He opened one of his gifts during that time, a CLONE WARS cartoon video from Anna. Lunch was oven-fried chicken strips, fruit salad, and more mac and cheese. This time he opened one of his big gifts, a HotWheels race set. We then went to We Will Go for worship and ministry before coming home and having pizza and popcorn while watching some silly sitcom episodes off of NetFlix.

Now he's sounds asleep, dreaming of perhaps fighting aliens from a flashy race car or who knows what, maybe macaroni and cheese. All in all it has been a good weekend. Actually, all in all, it has been a very good eight years.

Happy Birthday, T! Your mama loves you and your blue eyes so very, very much.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Mine was a special day spent with a sweet college student and a classy mom-of-a-friend, both of them fun and great shopping companions.

After dropping Betsie and four of her girlfriends off at WE WILL GO, I spent the day at the Renaissance outdoor mall with two of my newest girlfriends, Brooke and Miss Peggy.

Who knew that produce could be so fun?

And have you ever seen such fabulous style?

Today I was often reminded that the generations need each other and when we choose to just select friends from our own age group, we limit ourselves to blessings that God wants to pour out in our lives from other women. We need women who are both older and younger and the same age --- sometimes to disciple us, sometimes to keep us young, sometimes to pray with us, sometimes to make us feel needed.

Sometimes to just be silly.

What older woman or younger woman in your life might be a new girlfriend in disguise? You just might be surprised. But pleasantly so, I assure you.

Friday, September 23, 2011


"Results are God’s business. Obedience is ours. Perhaps when we grasp this, we will be freed from our earth-bound way of thinking and released to minister to the ones who are least likely to thank us." --- John Piper

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Ah! Mr. T just reminded me that his birthday is this week so perhaps I should post about him.

Let me think....should I? Shouldn't I? Should I? Shouldn't I?

Okay, the kids say I should and I happen to agree.

So, let's start this pre-birthday interview.

Hello, Mr.T.


How old are you turning?


What are your favorite things you like doing now?

Well, drawing [all said in a British accent, by the way], mazes. I like drawing myself with a hat that can fly and I can fly in maze world which is mazes that I make up. And I like to fly and save Maze World. And when I do I always kill Gandorf and I always defeat him. As you know, if you've ever played Legend of Zelda, Oracle of Time, or Twilight Princess, and so if you know him, just kill him. That's all I have to say. Bye-bye folks.

Wait, wait, wait.


That's not enough for a whole blog post about you. What else do you like to do?

Play the Wii. Watch David and Patrick play Legend of Zelda, Twilight Princess. I like to run around and get exercise cause I'm hyper. I like to drink Coca-Cola and rootbeer. By the way, rootbeer isn't a beer. It might say rootbeer, but it is not a beer. And that's all. I can't say anymore. Its top secret.

What is top secret?

The rest of the stuff?

You mean like reading?

I don't like to read. Well, I kind of due. But we don't like to talk about that.

Why not?

Just don't talk about it!

Okay. Weirdo.

I heard that!


That I'm a weirdo.

Don't say such mean things about yourself.

[Laughing] You should say such mean things about me.

How do you know I meant you?

Cause it is me on the blog post.


No one else!

Okay, well before I let you get away with bye-bye, I have a couple of more questions. How do you think you have changed the most since your last birthday?

I got more hyper. I got more good. I have spent my money wisely. You know how?

I bought a lot of not expensive stuff to make me happy.

Hmmm...okay, well, one more question. What was the best or most exciting thing you did this past year?

Well, I would have to say going over to the baptism service.

Whose baptism service?


Ah! Wanna tell us about it and why you were baptized?

Well, I felt like God really pushing on my heart to get baptized and to go overseas.

Go overseas and do what?

Missions and minister to the poor people in trouble.

That definitely sounds like the best thing that happened to you this year.

It is!

I love you, Mr. T! Hope you have a wonderful, wonderful birthday.

Bye-bye! See you soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Cait Evangelista is one of the Adventures in Missions gals that I've had the blessing of meeting. This past summer she led a large group of Ambassadors to Swaziland. This was the same team that Anna's former Swaziland teammates, Chandler and Lindsay, were part of.

Ministering to extremely impoverished children and orphans at neighborhood carepoints was one of the things they did almost every day. Here, Cait tells about their ministry time at one particular carepoint and the baby who impacted her so deeply:

I've typed this blog out too many times. I've come to this Word document too many times. I've stared at this screen too long. I don't know how to put this into words.

The year I spent stateside after the Novas Project was hard. You only had to look me in the eyes to see that I was longing for something more. One of the hardest things was being a part of a church where the Mothers and Fathers loved so much. I would hear things like, "We're having a girl, we can't wait to meet her!" "How blessed am I to have these children!" and "Having children is like having your heart walk outside your body."

Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful to hear these things. These things are completely honorable and glorifying to the Lord. It just pains me that these phrases are only used in a portion of the world.

One phrase in particular has haunted me. "He is my shadow."

...Let me introduce you to someone I will call Jesus baby.

There is a care point in Manzini, Swaziland. It has enough little chairs for every child. There are flushing toilets. There is a pretty preschool with running water in the preschool building and outside the building. There are dozens of small tires sticking out of the dirt for children to run and jump over. There are children playing in the trees. There is a large open space where the boys play soccer.

This looks like a safe haven at first. But across the street is the city dump. All day long you will see men and women picking through the trash hoping to find food, recyclables, or anything valuable. Down the street from the care point, off the main road, there is piles and piles of trash. Puddles of I don't know what and naked babies sitting in them.

If you look through a different set of lenses at the care point you will see brokenness and desperation.As soon as you take a step toward the entrance gate at least 5 children are hanging off you and attempting to crawl up to your head. If you are a boy, you can triple that number. You will see a fire going to cook the pap and beans and a mentally challenged baby sitting one foot from it but he isn't physically able to crawl away. He cries, but no one listens to him. Babies diapers' are dripping and overflowing. Boys fist fighting each other to hold your hand. Little girls walking around with only a shirt on and no pants or skirt.

When I was at this care point I was spending some time with my beloved Ambassador girls and watching 2 precious little ones asleep on the dirt floor. I felt the Holy Spirit urge me to leave that area and go to the other side of the building. When I got there I smelled something atrocious. After spending a minute searching for the odor, I realized it was radiating from a baby boy...the very one the Holy Spirit was leading my steps to.

After looking him over to make sure there wasn't anything too grimy on him (honestly, I was checking to make sure poop wasn't going to get on me...that is a realistic thing to avoid there), I picked him up. I couldn't hold him normally because his belly was unusually huge. His shirt couldn't fit over it and his pants were falling down. His face was filthy and covered in what looked like scales. His tummy and back were laced in a white that isn't supposed to be there. His body was covered in sores from his head to his shoeless baby feet.

[Even though he looks like he has baby fat, he isn't nutritionally healthy. A lot of time babies there will only eat pap, which has zero nutritional value. It will make you heavier, but it's not going to prevent malnutrition. His stomach being so huge can be due to HIV, parasites and worms or malnutrition.]

This baby broke my heart. Maybe it was the immense likelihood of him having HIV. Or the miserable look that never left his face. Or the fact that he couldn't fall asleep on me like he desperately wanted to because his big, bloated and rock hard belly was in the way and his head couldn't reach my chest. Or that as I was trying to cuddle him to sleep, as I rubbed his back, my fingers were going over sore after sole, bump after bump. Or that when we put him on a tire to take photos of him he laid down and he looked like he was dead. Or that I never saw him smile.

Jesus baby came to the care point alone. No Mother, brother or sister. He is no one's shadow. No one is delighted over him.

Leaving him at that care point was really hard and humbling for me. I had to trust that leaving him there, with Jesus loving him, was more than I could ever give him. My selfish love is nothing compared to the love Jesus desires to pour over this baby boy. Jesus didn't put me in this boy's life to only hold him. I was used as a bridge for the love of Christ to pour into Jesus baby's heart.

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also out to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion- how can God's love be in that person?

Dear children, lets not merely day that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.

1 John 3:16-19

Visit Cait's blog for more posts about her life of serving God through missions:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


My friend Danielle Brower is in Swaziland right now loving on a lot of precious children, care providers, and missionaries.

She and her team will be spending the next week asking God to use them for His Kingdom's sake. She sent out an update yesterday and with it, she included the words of a hymn that were her prayer for the team. It is a hymn by Sebastian Temple, based on a prayer of St. Francis.

I pray along with Danielle that this hymn would exemplify what the Bheveni Team is doing but I also pray it would exemplify my life, too, both right now and in the years to come. Would you pray it with me for them and then for yourself?

Make me a channel of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me bring you love;
Where there is injury, your healing pow’r,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace:
Where there’s despair in life let me bring hope;
Where there is darkness, – only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

O Spirit, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving to all that we receive,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I have a smattering of Swazi-related items to tell you about today.

*The Bheveni Team has arrived safely to Manzini, Swaziland, where they will be staying for the next several days. Praise God that all their luggage (50 plus pieces) arrived, they had safe travel (which is no small matter on the roads there), and their driver was able to get them away from a riot/protest that had broken out in Manzini. Yes, it postponed their arrival at the Asante Guesthouse by a few hours, but at least they were safe. Please keep praying for their safety and also pray for them as they begin their ministry to the children tomorrow. The first carepoint they will visit is actually not the Bheveni Carepoint but the Mangwaneni one which is just across the road from the main Manzini dump. I have blogged about it before. These children are truly some of the poorest of the poor which is saying a lot.

*Our application process for the missionary position we are seeking is moving along. All our references are being contacted and as soon as this phase is done, we'll be hearing back from the organization on the next step for us to take. After hearing about the riots/protests going on in the big city of Manzini, I'm feeling more excited that it seems God is calling us to live in a much smaller town with a more sedate pace of living. Okay, so maybe we won't have a KFC, a swank mall, or the best Chinese carry-out in the world, but I think it is a fair trade!

*We will soon be actively raising funds for our 2012 trip to Swaziland. We are hoping to do one fund raiser event per month plus online auctions scattered through out the fund raising period. As with last time, if you have a craft, home-cooked meal, gift certificate, item from overseas, baked goods, service rendered, etc. that you would like to donate, just let me know. All donations are greatly appreciated.

*Please keep praying for us as we set dates, seek accommodations, etc. There are so many decisions that must be made. So pray we'll have clear direction --- we really want God planning this trip. We want God to be directing every step we take, every life we touch.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Oh, Lord --- your love and beauty is so sweet, so powerful, so incredible.

Thank you.

CAPTIVATE US by Watermark

Your face is beautiful
And Your eyes are like the stars
Your gentle hands have healing
There inside the scars
Your loving arms they draw me near
And Your smile it brings me peace
Draw me closer oh my Lord
Draw me closer Lord to Thee

Captivate us, Lord Jesus
Set our eyes on You
Devastate us with Your presence
Falling down
And rushing river, draw us nearer
Holy fountain consume us with You
Captivate us Lord Jesus, with You

Your voice is powerful
And Your words are radiant bright
In Your breath and shadow
I will come close and abide
You whisper love and life divine
And Your fellowship is free
Draw me closer O my Lord
Draw me closer Lord to Thee

Let everything be lost in the shadows
Of the light of Your face
Let every chain be broken from me
As I’m bound in Your grace
For Your yoke is easy, Your burden is light
You’re full of wisdom, power and might
And every eye will see You

Saturday, September 17, 2011


My heart is heavy today and I'm fighting the tears.

I had really hoped that God would provide a miracle of provision and allow me to leave for Swaziland today with our Bheveni Carepoint team but this was not to be.

I know He can provide this miracle, I've seen it before. But for His perfect reasons that are often beyond my understanding, it wasn't in His plan this time.

I am so happy for the team. I know they've worked long and hard for this day of departure. I know it has meant much sacrifice for a lot of people and big steps in faith. I know God is going to do beautiful, beautiful things through them and in them. But it is hard to be left behind when I want so badly to be winging my way there so I can laugh with my Swazi friends, bless the missionaries who serve so faithfully, encourage the mamas and grandmas who work very hard, hug on those fabulous kids, and snuggle some little ones.

I know my time is coming. God is telling us to take our family for two weeks next summer and then to move there in just a couple of years.

There will be a life-time of Swazi laughs and hugs and blessings and, yes, tears. God's timing is for me to be here now. So while I wait on the future, I ask for the grace and strength to serve those right here around me and to pray fervently for those who have been called to go now.

Danielle, our intrepid and beautiful leader, sent out a message this morning asking for prayers and giving out some trip information.

Would you join me in praying for this team as they go visit the widows and orphans in Swaziland?

Danielle says:

*pray for safe travels for each of our team members ~ from the car rides, to the plane rides, to the elephant rides (just kidding, I think).

*pray that we make our connecting flights, and that our flights remain on time.

*pray that our luggage stays with us ~ and that we are able to avoid any customs issues at the border

*pray for wisdom ~ that we will be representatives of Christ’s integrity and patience.

*and finally, pray that we wouldn’t do anything stupid to embarrass ourselves or the Lord. :)

If you’re interested… our team leaves the Atlanta airport at 7:20p.m. on the 17th, and will be in the air for about 18 hours, arriving at Johannesburg, South Africa at 5:10p.m. on the 18th (they are 7 hours ahead of us) then drive 5 hours to Swaziland the next morning. Shewwww!

Anybody else tired, just reading that?

Now I encourage you to pray Psalm 91 over our team.

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Shine On!

And while we are on the subject of praying and Swaziland, I have a few other requests for you.

*We still need to set our trip dates. Pray that we will get that settled.

*The economic situation in Swaziland continues to get worse and worse. When you see people digging thru trash heaps, toddlers with bloated bellies and yellowing hair, little girls prostituting themselves for a loaf of bread, and young mothers dying from lack of medical care because they can't afford the transportation to get to a clinic, it is hard to believe it can get any worse. But it can and it does. Pray for provision and help and change. These are desperate times for many.

*Pray for Dennis and Zwakele Brock. They serve with Adventures in Missions. Dennis' uncle died this week here in America. It is hard to be all the way around the world during times of loss. Pray for Dennis' family here in the States and pray for Dennis and Zwakele as they deal with the distance during this time of mourning.

*Pray for the Petersons, also AIM missionaries, who I have mentioned before here at Graceland. Jenifer's parents are visiting from The States. Pray for traveling mercies and that this will just be an absolutely wonderful time of joy and encouragement.

Thank you, and as the Swazis would say, sala kahle (stay well)!

Friday, September 16, 2011


As Jim, our kids, and I prepare to move to Swaziland to live and minister for the long-term in a nation filled with extreme poverty, disease, death, and a growing number of orphans, it is important for us to plant deep within us now words of wisdom and life that will help carry us through the dark and discouraging places of the future. I read something today by Pastor John Piper that fits in this category. I wanted to share it with you because I think the truth of it is an important one for all of us who are followers of Jesus, no matter what particular ministry He has placed us in.

"This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." --- James 1:27

Local businessmen in Brazil call them “Vermin. Garbage. If we let them grow up, they will be criminals, a blight on our society.” There are an estimated 12 million homeless children on the streets of Brazil. The parents lost them in the crowds, put them out, died. However they got there, they are there. They beg, they steal, they sell their bodies. They eat garbage. They start scared, and end scarred, hard, and dead.

Some policeman and others “moonlight” by contracting to kill street children so that they will not menace the city. In 1992, an average of 400 of these children were killed monthly in Brazil.

Same in other big cities. The Philippine government estimates that there are 15,000 child prostitutes in Manila between the ages of 9 and 12. One estimate suggests that in Thailand there are 800,000 girls between 12 and 16 years old involved in prostitution.

Is your first thought merely human? Like: “If I can barely rear my own children to walk worthy of the Gospel, what hope would there be to change the lives of street kids?” Or: “If it takes 10,000 dollars worth of Christian counseling to stabilize a mature American Christian who was sexually abused, what in the world would we do with thousands of adolescents who knew nothing but abuse and lawlessness and violence on the streets?”

Do you find yourself looking (in good American fashion) at the bottom line and saying: “The turn around on this investment would not be good”? Or: “The growth potential in planting churches among street kids is not very great. There are too many obstacles”?

Shift your thinking for a minute (or a lifetime). What about the widow who put in her last two pennies? Jesus said she gave more than anyone. What about John the Baptist who got his head whacked for a dancer’s whim and never did a miracle? Jesus said, “Among those born of women, no one is greater than John.” What about the poor in spirit? Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. What about the meek? They inherit the earth. What about those who receive one child in the name of Jesus? At that moment they receive God (Mark 9:37).

What effect does it have on your longings when you think that God says “true religion” is to “visit orphans”?

The effect that it has on me it to make me want to love like Jesus loved and not always be thinking of earthly payoff. Face it, a few kids are cute, but most street kids will be thankless, rude, dirty, diseased, scar-faced, shifty-eyed, lice infested, suspicious, with bad smells and rotten teeth. If we minister mainly for the earthly payoff, we will burn out in a year.

Jesus did not say, “True religion is converting orphans.” He did not say, “True religion is making orphans mature and successful adults.” He said, “True religion is visiting orphans.” Results are God’s business. Obedience is ours. Perhaps when we grasp this, we will be freed from our earth-bound way of thinking and released to minister to the ones who are least likely to thank us.

Praying that God will raise up some of you for this,

Pastor John Piper

P.S. For more information on street children visit

Thursday, September 15, 2011


This past weekend, while up in Columbus for my social club's recruitment parties, I got to eat a great, little restaurant. What the place lacks in square footage size, it more than makes up for with the big flavors of it's food.

And because I'm so fluent in Thai, I knew what the name of the restaurant meant without having to even ask. Actually, since I can only speak about 5 or 6 words in Thai, it was lucky for me that one of those words was half of the title!

BANN THAI --- translated to mean Thai House --- is a fairly new restaurant in Columbus. Back when I was living there, I think there may have been one, maybe two, Chinese places. Now the ethnic food offerings have expanded and Columbus actually has quite a few Asian offerings other than the typical Chinese buffet including Japanese, sushi, and now Thai.

The wait staff was gracious, efficient, and thrilled when I practiced my few words of Thai on them. Yes, they are authentically Thai and we had a lovely time chatting about their homeland and our time spent there this past summer.

As already stated, the food was great. Anna had gone up for the weekend with me and her friend Chandler had driven down from Tupelo. They split a Pad Thai, wh Chan said was the best she's ever had, and I had a mildly, spicy, tofu and vegetable curry. The prices were very reasonable. Monday thru Friday has most entrees priced at $6.50. Since were were there on the weekend, our entrees were a couple of bucks more but still a great deal for the quality and quantity of the food.

So if you live in Columbus, are visiting the W, attending the annual pilgrimage, or maybe just passing thru on the way to somewhere else, give Bann Thai on Military Road a try. If you like Asian cuisine, I think you'll discover a new place to rave about.

For more information, visit their website:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


*Wearing my Snowflake Princess crown just because it makes me, well, smile!

*Getting messages on facebook and status alerts on my phone from folks in Swaziland.

*Newborn babies and their sweet little expressions, like the one on the face of a new baby boy born to a family in our church. Congratulations to Wendi, Wes, and all the rest --- he's absolutely adorable!

*The things God is teaching my children and then reading about some of that God growth in my Betsie's blog:

*Hearing Raffi sing BABY BELUGA and remembering how I could sing that same song and stop David's tears when he was just a little fellow.

*Sweet words of encouragement and love from precious girlfriends.

*Getting an email from the ministry we've applied to saying they've received our paperwork, are gathering information from our references, enjoyed hearing about how we came to God and felt the call to missions, and will be letting us know soon what the next step is in this journey to live and love in Swaziland.

*Waking up and just feeling overwhelmed with joy because God is so very, very good.

"You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Psalm 16:11

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Okay, so not a literal tossed salad, but a verbal tossed salad. When I make a salad, I throw in a lot of great elements that maybe don't seem like they'd go together (like tamari spiced pumpkin seeds and fat free feta) but somehow they work!

Well, I've got a lot of different things popcorning around in my brain today so I'm gonna toss 'em all together in a big, blog bowl.

*While we're on the subject of food, I've made a new discovery...panko! Okay, okay, so they are not new to a lot of you, but for me they are. I've heard about them for a while in magazines and online, even seen them in the grocery store, but didn't take the plunge to try them to the hunky hub asked me to use them in baking chicken strips. WOW! Were they ever great. I've also used them to coat baked sweet potato slices and I found a recipe today for Crispy Baked Onions at the Rachael Ray website:

*And now that we're on the subject of new, I'll share with you that I'm excited about our new Troubadour pledges my social club picked up yesterday at Mississippi University for Women. And crazy alum that I am, I even wore blue and white in their honor today. It is a blessing to see the spark of sisterhood passed down to another class of young women.

*And speaking of young women, a really young woman said something that cracked me up today. Little Miss M, who is all of 6 years old now, has declared today, "I am an artist, an artist of love." Yeah. That girl is a character. Anna says that if we wanted to really mess her up, she'd make a great reality show!

*Oh...shows! Have I told you yet that we're now pretty hooked on DOCTOR WHO? Doctor WHO you ask? That's right. DOCTOR WHO. The show that started decades ago and would air every now and again on Saturday afternoons (I think on PBS) here in Mississippi has now been re-booted. Gone is the middle-aged, scarf-frumped Time Lord. Now we've got a younger, sassier, Doctor whose escapades perfectly combine smarts, humor, philosophy, romance, mystery, adventure, and even an appropriate dose of scary. We don't let our youngest ones watch it (usually), but the older four and their parentals can often be found hanging on the cast's every British-accented word and then alluding to the series though out our days.

*And I'm still holding out for a fall African adventure. At the end of this week, Team Bheveni leaves for Swaziland to minister. I continue to hope that a miracle is going to come thru that puts me on a plane flying to Africa along with them. Hey, a girl's gotta dream so y'all keep on praying! I am for sure.