Monday, October 31, 2011


“Our charge is to both proclaim and embody the gospel so that others can see, hear, and feel God’s love in tangible ways.

When we are living out our faith with integrity and compassion in the world, God can use us to give others a glimpse of His love and character. It is God --- not us --- who works in the hearts of men and women to forgive and redeem. Coercion is not necessary or even particularly helpful. God is responsible for the harvest --- but we must plant, water, and cultivate the seeds."


Sunday, October 30, 2011


This afternoon, a local church, Victory Congregational Methodist, held a free fall festival complete with a bouncy castle, games, face painting, and kid-friendly food.

They were doing trunk-or-treat with free candy but we didn't want to wait til the end and get more sugar then our kids really need (I know, mean parents!) so I eased the kids' distress by promising to give them all my mini-chocolate bars when we got home.

Despite the boycott of the bags of candy, fun was had and good memories were made.

Even if very wet heads were part of the event.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Here are some random happenings and prayer needs going on for us right now:

*We've received good news from Swaziland about Bheveni's Busi. I shared several days ago about her and asked my readers to pray for her recovery from mouth surgery. The doctor did a biopsy at the time out of concern that she might have cancer. Praise God! The test came back and there is no cancer. It is only an infection that the doctor will continue to treat with medication as well as remove one more tooth next week.

*Another Swazi girl needs prayer. One of our sponsored girls is in a situation that needs to change before things potentially get critically worse. Please pray for God to move in this situation and for things to happen that need to happen.

*And while we're on the subject of Swaziland, we are trying to wrap up loose ends where our Delta SkyMiles are concerned and then hopefully buy our African trip airline tickets this week. Please keep on praying for ridiculously low prices and sufficient financial provision.

*I am collecting items to sell in consignment stores to raise money for missions, primarily but not limited to the support of African ministries. I would love to have your gently used fall and winter clothing (men, women's, children, and babies), fashion accessories, collectibles, picture frames, artwork, antiques, record albums, baby items, and shoes. If you have any vintage clothing items, such as clothes that an elderly relative wore or things you've held on to from the 70's or 80's, we've got a local shop that sells these, too. I'll be making a big delivery to stores in about a week and a half if you want to get me things before then.

*Jim is preaching tomorrow at Restoration Church. God has given him such an incredible gift of teaching and a passion for sharing the knowledge of God with others. Our pastor usually has him teach a few times a year. If you don't have any place to worship tomorrow and want some deep, meaty teaching, we'd love to have you there!

Friday, October 28, 2011


“What has God given you? Moses had a stick, David had a slingshot, and Paul had a pen. Mother Teresa possessed a love for the poor; Billy Graham, a gift for preaching; and Joni Eareckson Tada, a disability. What did they have in common? A willingness to let God use whatever they had, even when it didn't seem very useful. If you will assess what you have to offer in terms of your time, your treasure, and your talents, you will have a better understanding of how you might uniquely serve."

From The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

When Betsie was little, she could often be found doodling and drawing away. She became quite the artist long before she could read. She'd make birthday cards for grandparents, design detailed creations for homeschool assignments, and even disobediently scribbled on the walls and furniture. As she grew older, she began to decorate her journal pages, draw unsuspecting subjects during sermons, and even took a couple of art classes offered through a local college. But as much as she loved creating, she never imagined that God would use it on the mission field.

Last spring, Betsie spent two months in Thailand. Her main job was to work in the office, help out her host missionary family as needed, participate and serve in the church's ministries, and teach English. She also hoped to minister frequently at a local children's home.

She never imagined that her artwork would be part of that equation.

The first way God put her artistic skills to use was by making visual aids that her missionary "boss" would use in the self-defense classes he offered to local women. Betsie's poster-sized drawings were used to illustrate principles that Jon was teaching the women, including principles that he'd use to tie in various teachings about Jesus and the Christian faith.

The second way God used her skills for His kingdom was to minister to some of His precious "least of these". Many of the Hill Tribes people in Northern Thailand experience very limited employment opportunities and extreme poverty. Many families are unable to provide the basic needs of their children and still other children are left orphaned with no extended family to provide for them. Various homes have been established through out the area to help take care of these children and give them the opportunity to be educated.

A handful of these homes are connected with the Ba'an Athitaan Church where Betsie was based. Betsie had the amazing opportunity of getting to spend time with many of these children. One in particular, she visited many Saturdays. Betsie quickly learned that these children, girls in the case of this home, did not see themselves as the beautiful, precious children that they really are. She wanted them desperately to see themselves as the beloved children of the Heavenly King and Father. She wanted them to see themselves for the lovely treasures and royal heirs that the Father sees them as.

So Betsie spent hours upon hours, day after day, pouring her love for them into her drawings. And the Saturday before she returned to the States, she visited them at their home, shared her heart --- and the Father's heart --- with words and images.

Each girl, and the one, sole, little boy, were given a drawing that Betsie made of them. A drawing that captured their unique beauty in the hopes that through the images, they'd be able to catch a glimpse of how God and those around them saw them. How worthy of love they really are. That they'd be able to rest in the security of the Father's love, salvation, and provision.

Seeing each of those children receive their drawings is a special memory that I will always treasure. Watching Betsie's gift be used by the Father was so very sweet.

And just as God used Betsie's gift to help those children see themselves as He does, God is working in Betsie's life to show her the way He sees her. Just this week, we were talking about how her talent was used in Thailand. It really surprised her that God could use her ability to draw for His kingdom. It had really and truly never dawned on her that it was something that He could use for His glory.

Isn't that how it is with us so often? It is so easy to see our failings or our lack. It is so easy to compare our gifts and talents, or lack thereof, to those who seem so much more skilled and capable. We forget that the same God who used a little boy's generous heart and his few fishes and loaves to feed thousands can also use us. We forget that the same God who used the responsible spirit of a big sister to save her baby brother Moses can also use us.

We forget.

But God never forgets. He doesn't forget them. He doesn't forget us.

He is the one who created us. He is the one who designed us with our temperaments, talents, minds. He is the one who fashioned us with gifts that seem common and gifts that seem supreme. But all can be used by Him and all will be used by Him when we just step out and offer them freely.

So what has God given you?

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Eighteen years ago, I was expecting my first baby. It didn't seem like those last few weeks would ever pass by. The pregnancy seemed to last forever. And then Anna was born.

And in those first years of her life, and then the first years of her siblings' lives, time also seemed to sometimes go by so very slowly. Will they ever sleep through the night? Will they ever be potty trained? Will they ever learn to tie their own shoes and wash their own hair?

And then before I knew it, time seemed to hit warp speed. The little baby I so impatiently waited on 18 years ago is now working a job, driving her own truck, nearing high school graduation, and making plans for college. In less than one year, my baby --- who is now nearly all grown up --- will be moving to New Orleans and pursuing a degree in Applied Behavioral Sciences that includes an emphasis in criminology because she wants to be a part of the fight against injustices and human trafficking.

I'm so proud of her passion for bringing freedom and justice to those who are being abused, enslaved, and exploited. It will be hard on this mama's heart to have her far away from me, and yes, I'll worry about her living in a big ole city without us. But I wouldn't do a thing to stop her from following the call that God is putting on her life. One of the biggest blessings this mama can have is knowing that God is using me to bring about His purposes in her life.

This past Tuesday, her daddy took off from work and we made the journey down to the Crescent City for Holy Cross College's Prospective Student Open House. We talked to professors and staff, toured the facilities, learned more about the college's offerings, and were amazed and excited to see how God is putting His provision into place for her.

We received some very encouraging information about scholarships, spoke with a professor who works with women who have escaped human trafficking, and made contacts with people who are going to help us look for safe and affordable housing for Anna in the New Orleans area.

At the end of the evening (and yes, we were the last ones to leave) we all agreed that Holy Cross and the path that Anna is pursuing possesses that rightness that we've learned comes when you're walking right down the center of God's will.

And that's a good place to be...even when the journey is going by a little faster than this mama would perhaps prefer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Today, we received an exciting delivery via the good ole U.S. of A postal service...


But not just regular, boring, not-very-special packets, but packets with the three youngest MacKids' passports!!!

Yep, we are one BIG step further along on our journey to Swaziland.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


"I don't always knew where this life is going. I can't see the end of the road, but here is the great part: Courage is not about knowing the path. It is about taking the first step. It is about Peter getting out of the boat, stepping out onto the water with complete faith that Jesus will not let him drown.”

Katie J. Davis, author of KISSES FROM KATIE

Monday, October 24, 2011


My daughter Betsie came across a book the other day at our favorite vintage clothing store, THE ORANGE PEEL, that she knew would totally appeal to me. And she was right.

LESSONS OF A LIPSTICK QUEEN delighted me if for no other reason than I love lipstick. That said, after glancing thru the summary and a quick skim itself, the book actually sounds interesting. It is one young woman's story of how she turned her dreams into reality. In telling her tale, Poppy King encourages other women not to be afraid of taking what they are passionate about and making things happen for real. I was broke that day after taking my million blessing children to the fair, so I'll have to try to get this one from the library, but it definitely goes on my "wanna read" list.

What I did read was a book that didn't cost me a dime. LITTLE PRINCES by Conor Grennan is how one man made the decision to do what he had to do to reunite trafficked children with their families in Nepal. This was a beautiful story, very well written, with both heartbreaking accounts and down-right laughable moments. I love reading stories about real life people who were willing to work hard, sacrifice, and even be seen as a bit crazy in order to make a difference in the world for those who need their help.

And that brings me to what book I'm almost done with right now. It is another story of how one person, in this case, a single young woman fresh out of high school, changed the world for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of kids in Uganda. KISSES FROM KATIE fleshes out the story that many of us have come to know through her blog. Only in her very early 20's, she is already the adoptive mother of 14 daughters and has started a sponsorship ministry that means hundreds of kids can now go to school and hundreds, maybe even over a thousand people, are now eating on a regular basis. These are people, including children, who previously were literally starving to death in many of the cases. But KISSES FROM KATIE doesn't just tell her story, it challenges each of us to not be afraid of radically loving and serving our Lord and Savior as we radically love and serve the least and the lost, wherever that may be and whoever they may be.

All three of these are books that spur me on to following the dreams God has placed in my heart, no matter the cost. Following Jesus is worth it. He's worth it all.


To read more about Conor Grennan and his work in Asia, go here:

And to read more about Katie, her amazing family, and the life she is living as she follows Jesus in Uganda, go here:

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Rachel Lovejoy spent time this past summer in Thailand serving at the same ministry base that my daughter Anna served at, SHE Ministry. I recently read this blog post she wrote in response to many of the things people say to her about her past and future missionary experiences:

Do Something.

My mind is so full today. As some of you know I went to this missions conference in beautiful Minnesota a few weeks ago and as I’ve been processing everything and reading some of the books I got (I got like 240943) I’ve been thinking about some things people have said to me about me going to Africa and Thailand and I want to clear some things up.

I’ve heard a lot of, “I wish I could do something like that” and “you’re so brave and strong” and “I wish I had that calling” and “I wish I knew what God wanted me to do.” In my person opinion all of these questions kind of coincide so I’m just going to go on this rant and hopefully give my opinion on all of them.

Here’s the thing. If you wish you could do something like that, then DO it. Do something. At the conference I was at a man named Michael Oh gave his opinion on the idea of a “calling” and his mentality was basically go until God shuts a door and tells you not to. Don’t sit around praying about what to do, God can and will close doors if He has something else for you. So go somewhere, tell someone, SEND someone. Do SOMETHING.

People keep saying, “you are so brave and strong!” NO I’m not. I’m the opposite of those things. I am weak. I am small. I am SO scared. About everything. All the time. It is my God that is strong. It is my God that is brave and bigger than life. It is my God that lives and dwells inside of me that allows me to face these things He has given me. Without Him I wouldn’t even be able to face the day sometimes, let alone face the nations.

I guess that leaves only one. No one has to wish they knew what God wanted them to do. He wants to you do something. He wants you to love people. He wants you to love the NATIONS. John Piper said, “to belong to Jesus is to embrace the nations with him” that means we need to be going or we need to be sending. Supporting. Reaching out to people in the community. Actively pursuing the people around you, just as the Lord has actively pursued you. Not selfishly holding in the goodness of the Gospel because you are scared and unsure and comfortable where you are. What is there to be scared of? God dwells in us. He lives in us. His strength pours out of us and that leaves no room for fear. So stop being scared of being uncomfortable. Stop being unsure of God’s calling for you. Just stop, and do something.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Though I'm posting this only a bit after nine in the morning here in Mississippi, my family has already been up and about for a few hours today. Part of this time has been spent preparing and eating breakfast, but part of it has also been spent in Bible time and prayer. I thought I'd ask y'all to join with us as we pray about specific needs. There is something beautiful and powerful that happens when people join together in talking to the Father.

The first prayer request is for my two oldest daughters, Betsie and Anna. Right now as I type, they are taking their ACT tests. They have have been preparing for over a year for these tests --- taking practice tests online, attending an ACT prep workshop, working thru ACT guides, as well as just applying themselves diligently to their regular school work. Pray that they will have peace and calmness of nerves. Pray that they will be able to recall the things they have studied. Pray that they will use their test-taking time wisely. Pray that God will help them figure out and understand accurately what is being asked of them. As future missionaries, we will be living on an income that is cut in half. Our girls will not be able to depend on us for college funding, but they can depend on their Heavenly Parent. Good scores on the ACT equal good scholarships. And I know personally from my own past college journey, that scholarships are often the gift of provision that God sends to His children. Regardless of how they do, I trust that if He wants them in college, He'll provide a way. He is faithful.

The second prayer request is for Jim, our oldest son David, and another Scout. They are hiking 20 miles today. Yes, TWENTY. This is part of the process they must complete to become Eagle Scouts. Pray for safety, strength, and perseverance. Pray that the lessons the boys will learn today about not giving up will follow them through out their days. Often, God calls us to hard tasks, tasks that seem overwhelming or too long. But He is faithful to give us the strength to carry on when we follow and depend on Him.

Last night I asked for prayer for Bongiwe, a teenaged girl in Swaziland suffering from an extreme infection and issue in her mouth. Today I ask you to pray for a little girl in Swaziland named Busi. She is recovering from surgery on both her hands. Please pray for total healing.

And lastly, please pray for Dennis and Zwakele Brock in Swaziland. I've mentioned them many times here at Graceland. They have transferred to a new ministry role in a new city in Swaziland. Please pray for them and their daughter Thandeka as they adjust to their new life at a very special children's home in Mbabane, the capital city where I used to live. The Sandra Lee Centre's mission is "to rescue orphaned and abandoned children from a life of almost certain malnutrition, abuse/exploitation and illiteracy, by creating a safe, healthy environment for them to live in that is built on the grace and love of Jesus Christ." With Dennis and Zwakele's previous experience working with the Children's HopeChest/Adventures in Missions carepoint ministries and their love and passion for the Lord and His precious children, they are going to be used by our Lord in fabulous ways!

Thank you for your prayers. They are highly treasured by me. Better than silver and gold.

Friday, October 21, 2011


This is Bongiwe. She is a teenager who lives in Swaziland and needs your prayers.

Last month, when the Bheveni Team visited the carepoint, they noticed that Bongiwe's face, mouth, and lips were swollen. And she, of course, reported to be in a lot of discomfort.

She was given antibiotics and then plans were made to take her to see a doctor. One of the Adventures in Missions staffers took Bongiwe to see the doctor this week and they pulled two teeth that were rotten and cut out a chunk of the infected gum tissue to run a biopsy on as the doctor wanted to rule out cancer.

Bongiwe stayed for a while with the missionary family while she recovered.

Please pray for her full recovery. Pray that the biopsy will come back showing no cancer. There is no cancer treatment available in Swaziland. If you are poor and live in Swaziland, cancer treatment is not even an option.

I am so thankful to God for missionaries such as the McAdams, organizations such as Children's HopeChest, and Swazi Christians such as the D-Team staffers and the carepoint ladies who provide hope and help for children such as Bongiwe. Without the ministry provided through the Bheveni Carepoint, Bongiwe would not have had anyone who would have ensured she would receive the medical care she needed.

When a family is struggling to just buy food and pay for school fees, quality medical care is often something that is not even an affordable provision for them.

Bongiwe's care is being paid for by generous donors who love children living in Swaziland even though they may never, ever meet those children.

If you'd like to be one of those who financially steps into the gap and provides food, clothing, school fees, and medical care for "the least of these", maybe a Children's HopeChest sponsorship is exactly what you're looking for...and you may be the hope that a child and their family have been praying for.

To find out more about Children's HopeChest and the Bheveni Carepoint sponsor program or to make a one time donation, visit Danielle Brower's blog:

Thursday, October 20, 2011


As I read the first five words of my journal entry, I thought, "can any day at a Swazi carepoint really be regular"? No, not really. Every day is a new day filled with brand new hugs and snuggles and familiar songs sung fresh. Here's what I wrote a little over a year ago in my favorite country in the whole, wide, big world --- Swaziland.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Last "regular" day at carepoint as tomorrow is a big party for the kids.

Highlights of the day:

*Noah's Ark Bible story

*Taught preschool children an animal game

*Preschoolers colored pictures

*Mealie meal pap and beans were tried by Jim, Kelly, Danielle, and Mike

*Some of the older kids put on a dram re-enacting when Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery

*Older kids decorated paddle balls

*Went on two home visits with Xolani, Anna, and Jim. First one was with Sandra Carmichael's sponsored child.

Her gogo [grandmother] had gone to a funeral and her parents have been gone since May to work in Johannesburg so we visited with her, an older brother, and an aunt. Special care had been given to the fruit trees around the homestead.

*The second home visit was to one of our sponsored children, Banele Dlamine's [Our church youth group is actually her official sponsor]. It was a long, long walk but well worth it. Her homestead was about 20 minutes walk from the carepoint up on the top of a big hill. The homestead was very simple but clean.

We had a very friendly, relaxed visit with Banele, her mother, her father, her older sister, and her sister's baby. All of us sat on mats except for the [father] who was sitting on a rock. Banele's parents seemed old. I would guess her mother is in her 50's and the father in his 60's.

Banele took me inside the building where they all sleep. There was a double bed and a twin bed. It was all kept up very, very neatly. Banele was very proud and stretched out on the bed with a happy smile.

*We had to walk quick, quick back to the carepoint where our van was waiting to leave. In our absence, the gogos [grandmothers] and makes [mothers] had gotten their gifts (aprons, scarves, shirts) and the school age children received their backpacks and school supplies.

*This evening [our team] ate at Ramblas again with Elliott, Zwakele, and Dennis. We also saw Julie and [and her daughter] Ellie there as they were leaving the Pick-N-Pay grocery store.

*After supper, we organized supplies for tomorrow and all the things we will leave for Kriek for the carepoint to use in the future.

Tomorrow is the end-of-the-week party at the carepoint.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Here's the next installment from the Swaziland 2010 Trip series:

September 23, 2010
10:22 p.m.

Today is my Dad's 74th birthday so after breakfast, I used the front desk's computer to send a message to Betsie and others asking them to please call and wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

At 10:00, we left (with Musa driving) to go to the carepoint where the Timbali Crafts women meet.

Our group joined a REAL LIFE team in examining and sorting purses. I spent a good long time talking to Michelle from Chicago. Their team has been here 1.5 weeks.

I also had the blessing during this time of serving food to the carepoint kids --- sour porridge [imagine cream of wheat mixed with yogurt] to the little ones and mealie meal pop [thick corn meal mush] with gravy for the big ones.

The whole time, Musa and Jim just talked and talked. :D

After a couple of hours, we left and went to Bheveni. We drove thru a dry riverbed on a the way there. We saw cans set in the dry sand for the water to rie up into so people could scoop water out. The Swazis desperately need God to send rain.

Our main activity at Bheveni today was to give the kids new shoes.

First, their feet were washed by a member of the B-Team and then they were fitted with their new shoes and socks.

I was the official photo taker plus I did other random things that needed to be done from time to time. It was so fun watching the whole event occur.

After the shoe-giving, the children sang songs and then Jim told the last installment of his African story. During this, Mike and Danielle made another home visit.

The children then left and we gave the D-Team members their gifts. They are such strong, amazing, loving young men and women. They do so much for the children of the carepoints and our week couldn't have happened without their leadership and hard work. Among the gifts given were a fedora hat for Musa, sneakers for Xolani, a baseball cap for Bheki, American flag map shirts for each member and fashion accessories for the girls.

When we got back to Manzini, Jim, Erica, and I went walking a bit around Manzini. Erica and I swapped a lot of Swazi stories as she had served as a leader of a Real Life team last year.

At the hotel, Erica, JIm, Anna, and I ate pizza from Ramblas out on the patio.

Danielle and Mike were spending time calling Danielle's Mom. Today was Danielle's father's funeral. [He died just a couple of days before we left the States for Swaziland.]

After supper, I got on facebook for approximately 15 minutes and talked to the bhuti [young man] at the front desk about God. Then we went to Erica's room for team time.

We cut out paper shapes needed for tomorrow's older kids' craft and then talked about our highs and lows of the week. Anna ended our night by praying for all of us. It was a long and beautiful prayer, a blessing in many ways. One of the things she prayed was that Jim and I would know clearly whether we are supposed to move over here or not. She also prayed that each of us would know what to do with what we are seeing and experiencing this week.

Then Jim and I tried to book our rental car via the front desk computer to no avail. [ We will need one for our extra days we are staying in Swaziland.]

Now it is time to sleep. We all are really ready for bedtime and rest every night.