Thursday, May 31, 2012

JUST GOT BACK

Thank you all for your prayers over the last few days.  We just got back this evening from dropping Anna off in Atlanta.  I just got off the phone with her.  She and her friends have been having a fun time catching up with each other as well as doing some pre-trip road-tripping thru Alabama and Tennessee.  They even went up to Lookout Mountain.  Another friend from Thailand, Carley, has been with them, too.  Tomorrow, they will meet their team at the airport before riding the AIM bus to their training camp.


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This photo was taken with Anna the night we said goodbye at Sophia's house. It was just two days ago, but it already seems a lot longer than that in some ways. Jim and I have decided we're missing her already not because she's never been away from us for just a couple of days, she has, plenty of times. But we're already missing her because we know that this was a significant goodbye. From here on out, whenever she's at our home, it will just be for visits. And that makes even this short time of a couple of days different.

Keep praying for her and praying for us, please.

We are so pleased with what she's doing. We know God is going to do incredible things in and through her life. We just know that this chapter of her life will be done apart from us...as will most of the rest of her life's chapters.

Okay, I'm going to stop now before I get too maudlin and start messing up the keyboard circuitry with tears being shed.

More photos later, most likely, from our trip and I'll keep posting news of Anna's trip as we get it.

Goodnight!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

OLD AND NEW

This photo was taken at the Passion Conference this past January.  It is of Anna with two of her  friends, Megan and Sophia, two of her Adventures in Missions Thailand teammates.
Anna, Sophia, Megan

Today, they are together again. But this time, instead of being Thailand bound, they are African bound. God actually used Megan and Sophia to get Anna on this trip. Now they are about to begin a crazy, wonderful, God adventure in an entirely different setting.

Last summer, they were ministering to bar girls in modern, lush Phuket, Thailand. This summer they will be ministering in hospitals, mud huts, schools, churches, orphanages, and maybe even refugee camps scattered around Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Pray for Anna, Megan, and Sophia as they travel to meet their team at the AIM base outside of Georgia and then their team travels on to their training in another part of Georgia. Pray for safety and traveling mercies, but more importantly, pray for love.

Pray that their new team will be united by their common love of God and their desire to love the least and the lost. Pray that the same kind of strong bonds of friendship Anna experiences with these two girls and friends from her Swaziland Ambassador trip, will also be made with this summer's teammates.

Living together closely in rough and rugged places can be stressful. Lack of comforts, strange foods, and miles of hiking can be wearing. But we know that "love covers a multitude of sins".

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

THREE YEARS AGO

Nearly three years ago, Anna was leaving for her first Adventures in Missions trip.

Anna and Jim before Swaziland Ambassador Trip Resized

As we said our goodbyes, her daddy took time to pray a blessing over her. Today, we'll once again say our goodbyes as she heads on yet another AIM trip, another one to Africa.

Please pray for safe travel as the first leg of her journey begins.

Please pray for us as we all say goodbye.

We were excited about what God was going to do in her life three years ago but it was still hard, in some ways, to say goodbye.

It is the same this year. We anticipate the Lord doing amazing things in and through her and her Expedition team. But we also know we're going to miss her like crazy. This will be the longest she'll be gone from us with this trip last two months. And I think it will be even harder because we know that as soon as she gets home, she'll be packing back up and moving away for college.

So very bittersweet.

We're so proud of her and love her so much. And that means we're also going to hurt when she's no longer with us.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support,
Elysa

Monday, May 28, 2012

THE GOODBYES HAVE BEGUN

Over the weekend, Anna started saying her goodbyes in earnest. Today, was her last full day at home. Tomorrow, she begins her first leg of the journey toward Africa.

P5260794 Anna and Miss Barbara Hug resized

She'll travel to Atlanta where she'll spend a couple of days with two of her friends from last year's Thailand team. And then later on in the week, they'll meet up with their team and start an intense few days of training and getting to know each other in preparation for their two months of ministry.

Please pray for her as she finishes up her packing. She has basically finshed her trip packing, but she's still got a lot to do as her room needs to be completely packed up before she leaves. We are hoping to move to We Will Go this summer while she's in Africa so she needs to have things sorted and ready for storage until she sets up housekeeping in her new home in New Orleans.

Please, also pray for her full healing. She's not running a fever today, but she's still got a lot of sinus mess bothering her.

Thank you. Your prayers really do mean so much.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

WHO?

We just got back from another Sunday afternoon spent ministering at We Will Go.  We spent time praying for people, serving them supper, helping with clean up, signing people up for the clothing ministry, and helping to take some of them home.

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One of the best parts of the day is often during the times when we can just sit down and talk to people. Today, I was able to spend time with a guy I'll call JC. He's a regular who we met years ago but he hasn't been around for a while. It was good to catch up today and after a while, he left and came back with a magnolia. A magnolia flower for me. What a blessing. Here's a homeless guy with hardly anything to his name possessions-wise, but he still managed to give me a gift. And it was a beautiful, beautiful gift. One I'll remember and treasure in my heart long after the petals have turned brown and the leaves have turned brittle.

If you'd like to be a part of blessing and ministering to folks like JC, it is really quite easy. Weekly there are are opportunities to do light construction, work in the clothes ministry, pack snack bags, organize the food pantry, take prayer walks, work in the community garden, and serve the Sunday fellowship meal. This summer, We Will Go also needs folks to provide some of those Sunday meals. The meal can be as simple as corn dogs, chips, beans, and cookies, or as involved as ham or turkey with all the fixings. We have civic groups, churches, businesses, and families provide the meals. If you're interested in ministering to inner-city Jackson in this way, please let me know and I'll be glad to get you all the information you need.

Thanks and please pray for us as we that serve at We Will Go seek to love God more deeply and better serve all those who puts across our paths.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bye-Bye, Baby

About eighteen and a half years ago, I was in the hospital looking forward to the birth of my first baby.

P5210570 Elysa pregnant with Anna resized

Now I'm looking forward to the graduation of that first baby. This weekend, that little girl that turned me into a mommy, will pass from the world of childhood and home school to full-fledged, mostly-on-her-own, young adulthood.

This week has been full of cards and gifts arriving via the mail, lots of cooking, talking about the future, buying lots of needed stuff, visits from friends and relatives, and packing up needed supplies.

Just like eighteen and a half years ago.

Except this time, instead of preparing to say "hello", we're preparing to say "good bye".

Yeah, I know. She'll always be our daughter. And she'll come home on holidays and weekends from time to time, but for all intents and purposes, she's starting a new chapter apart from us.

Sure, part of us will always be with her. She'll take with her the values, wisdom, knowledge, and skills we've worked to instill over her growing up years. She'll also take, more importantly, love and faith.

But when she leaves for Africa this week, she'll always be returning just for visits. She'll have her own home, her own life, and eventually her own family.

Eighteen and a half years ago, I couldn't wait to see her sweet little baby face and get to know her.

Now I am already missing her and can't wait to see her sweet, young woman's face when she returns from Africa and then get to know the adult she will become over a life's worth of visits, phone calls, emails, and skype sessions.

Bye-bye, Baby. Who knew the years would pass so fast?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

THANKFUL THURSDAY

I have so many things to be thankful for tonight.

I'm thankful for the Freeman Family, a smalltown family who was willing to say "yes" to God and follow His call to Ecuador where just this week, they are settling into ministry at a children's home, Casa de Fe.

Freeman child looking out window on way to Ecuador missionaries missionary kid resized

I'm thankful for the Sims Family. Another regular family from here in Mississippi who is also willing to say "yes" to the call to go and minister. Laura, Jay, and their girls leave in just a few days for ministry school in Mozambique, a missions outreach in Brazil, and then after that? They have no idea but they are trusting God to tell them what they need to know in just the right time.

I'm also thankful for God moving on behalf of them as needed. Just this week, what needed to happen for their house to sell, happened. They've sold "their American dream", as Laura describes it, because they are that in love with Jesus.

I'm thankful for friends who last night and today spent time helping us get our "American dream" ready to sell. Our small group leader from cburch, Janine, came last night and helped me pretty up things. The pictures that have been lurking under my stairs and the mirror that was hiding in my closet are now looking good on our walls. My handy and handsome hubby also helped us by hanging up that hiding scrumptious but heavy mirror. And another couple of friends from church, Rosa and her daughter Kailey, came over and worked like crazy. With their efforts, we got more clutter done away with plus a whole lot of cleaning got done.

I should also thank my children who worked so hard today, too. What a blessing they are to me every single day.

And on top of all those blessings, there are still more things to be thankful for.

I am thankful for a daughter who has successfully completed her homeschool education, will be graduating this weekend, and is also saying "yes" to God's call as she leaves for Africa next weekend.

And last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for all our family and friends who have been so supportive of Anna during this time of transition. Whether it is a graduation gift, a donation towards her ministry trip, or faithfully praying for her, your support is being used by God to make this special time in my girl's life even more special.

Thank you all and thank you, Lord. Y'all --- and He --- are so much better than I deserve.

Truly, He is a good God who pours down blessings upon His beloved children.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WHY DO WE HAVE LIGHTS?

I heard someone at WE WILL GO talk about lights the other day. The person reminded us that the purpose of lights are to push back the darkness.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to be light in the darkness. That doesn't mean that all of us lights should stand around with all the other lights admiring how bright and pretty and shiny we are. We are supposed to go to the dark places and bring God's light to those in need.

Yeah, I know that we who have plenty of money often buy candles and lamps and light fixtures because they are pretty and sometimes we don't really need them, we just want to add them to our already lit decor.

But that's not why God made us to be light.

He made us to be light --- not just for our looks, but to be used in places desperate for Him.

Places like Jackson, Mississippi.

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All too often, in church circles, you hear people saying "oh, we can't go there, it is too dangerous" or "it is just too bad". Really? I mean, I understand using Godly wisdom and even the disciples at times left situations because the people weren't listening, their lives were in danger, and God wasn't finished with them yet.

So I'm not saying that we should just recklessly throw caution to the wind and just go wherever and whenever without first making sure that's what God says we should be doing.

What I am saying, though, is that far too many Christians are doing everything they can to avoid danger, even at the risk of the world dying without hearing about Jesus and receiving the ministry it so urgently needs. Far too many of us are lights staying inside very safe, sturdy coverings. But as the Bible points out, no one lights a lamp and then covers it up so the light can't be seen.

And God didn't bring us out of darkness so we'd just stay inside our nice, safe church walls where our light can't reach those who need us.

People like those living in inner-city Jackson.

Today, yet another person in the We Will Go neighborhood was killed by violent means. I don't know where this particular person stood with the Lord, but I do know that there are other people being killed, committing suicide, or dying from overdose in Jackson --- people who are not walking with the Lord. People who are trapped in rebellion against the Lord. People who are captive to addictions. People whose lives have been trashed by bad decisions, decisions that are taking them down paths strewn with violence and destruction.

Please pray for others to say "yes" to God's call to minister in and perhaps even move to those areas of Jackson in need of God's light. And pray for those of us who have said "yes" that we will be able to move soon.

They and we are never promised tomorrow. And because of that, we need to get that light out there where it is so terribly dark.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

OH MY!

Look at what a cutie pie! This is Anna about 17 years ago at my Grandma McElhaney's house in Cantonment, Florida.


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I came across this photo and scores of others just as cute while looking through old photos today. My mom has made wonderful photo albums and has passed them down to us now that she's living with my brother. These are a great resource as Betsie and I look for images to use in the video we are making in honor of Anna's upcoming graduation from high school.


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From the very beginning, Anna had an amazing personality.  She was a leader from an early age on and her zest for life made her a fun little girl.

She was the first grandchild on my side of the family so that meant she was often the center of attention.  My brother Edward lived with us during her baby years so she got lots of extra cuddles and playtime from him.

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We put her on a horse for the first time when she was still a baby and she was hooked.  After that, she loved anything she could ride on and pretend it was a horse, whether that was her daddy's back or a reindeer.

P5220641 Anna resized

When Anna was born, my dream came true of becoming a mommy.  She brought so much joy into my life and continues to this day.  Can't believe my "little Sunshine girl" is graduating this weekend.  I love the woman she is becoming, but some days, I still miss that laughing little baby.  I guess that's why grandchildren are so loved.


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Monday, May 21, 2012

WHEN WE PRAY

“The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion.


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He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”

--- Samuel Chadwick

Sunday, May 20, 2012

SLIGHTLY BRAVER

“There's a difference between fear and paralysis
And I've learned that I don't have to "grow up"
to be open to opportunity,
to be willing to step through doors without being pushed.

P5170324 Edited and resized door

 I just have to be brave.
 I just have to be slightly braver than I am scared.”
― Victoria Schwab

Saturday, May 19, 2012

MILESTONES ARE A'CHANGING

When my teenagers and their friends were little, their milestones were marked by their first smiles, steps, and words. Now, their milestones are marked by graduations, weddings, and even babies of their own.

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Last night, we attended the celebration supper and graduation for our oldest niece.

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Emily, who is just a few weeks older than Anna, graduated from Petal High School and is making plans to attend my and her mother's alma mater, Mississippi University for Women, where she will major in culinary arts.

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Her parents were so proud to watch their first baby graduate wearing an Honor Society stole knowing that she'll soon be attending college on scholarships based on her academic achievements and strength of character.

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Then today, we attended the wedding reception for one of Betsie and Anna's best buddies from their growing up years, Mason Mangum. They first met through our homeschool group, in fact, one year Mason and Anna were "Mister and Miss Florence-Richland Homeschoolers". Now Mason is a college student, married to Cassie Jeffcoat (who is the big sister of Betsie's best friend Candace), and building a new life with his beautiful bride.

Next weekend, Anna will be graduating from high school, leaving for Africa a few days later, and then starting her own college years at Holy Cross in New Orleans.

In my mind I still see them bursting balloons at birthday parties and cutting up at homeschool group outings. It sounds so cliche, but how did they ever grow up this quickly?

Everyone told me that one day it would happen. I had many other older moms tell me that the time would fly by, and they were right. They are hitting these milestones faster and faster and this mama is thinking that waterproof mascara is going to become my new best friend.

Friday, May 18, 2012

WHY DIDN'T I BLOG YESTERDAY?

It is very rare that I miss a day of blogging. I think the housefire was the last time I missed a day. But I was kinda busy yesterday. Busy having fun!

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For Mothers Day, Anna and Betsie bought me a ticket to see Switchfoot and Rocket Summer in concert down in New Orleans. We roadtripped with long-time friends Shannon and Megan making a day of it with apartment checking-out for Anna, muffalettas for all of us, and a quick visit to Anna's college, Holy Cross.

We were some of the first ones to show up at Tipitina's Uptown for the concert which meant though we had a bit of a wait (during which time we were able to walk around the neighborhood some just like the band and their entourage was doing) and stand in line, it was totally worth it.

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We were right at the very front so within just a long arm's reach of the stage.

P5170356 Rocket Summer

The concerts that both bands put on were great. What musicians they all are.

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And afterward, the band guys were as nice as could be. We stayed for an hour afterwards chatting with them, sharing prayer requests, and taking pictures. We spent a lot of time talking to one of the guitarists from Rocket Summer. Justin used to play for Kari Jobe and we enjoyed his story of how God had gotten him to the place that he now is with his career and life.

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All in all, a wonderful night full of dancing, worship, laughter, and just the kind of rich living that God blesses His children with.

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Shannon and I both were very grateful for having the chance to spend this special time with our girls before they spread their wings and leave the nest for college and beyond.

Girls, we're so glad that we don't have to "dare you to move". It is so good for our mama hearts to see you already moving and changing this world for Him!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

BREAKING BREAD TOGETHER

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P1240418 Bread resized and edited

"And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." Acts 2:44-47

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

DON'T BE TOO JEALOUS...

...but we now have three teenaged drivers living in our household and sitting behind the wheels of our vehicles.

P5150298 Edited and resized David

Yep, fifteen year old David took his learner's permit today and passed --- actually blew it away by getting 100% of the answers correct.

So as I said, don't be too jealous. Only a very rare class of people get the joy of having this many teenaged kids driving all during the same season of life.

Monday, May 14, 2012

LITTLE LOST COWBOYS AND THEIR MAMAS

Since Mothers Day was just yesterday, the subject of mamas and their children is still on most of our minds. Little Miss Merry and I just read a sweet book on that subject and she wanted to tell you all about it.

P5140295 Edited and resized Merry

"The book is called THE LITTLE LOST COWBOY. The little coyote says 'Arooo --- I'm lost and I'm lonely' and the next page, the moon says 'follow the stars, they know where to go' and so the little coyoto started off. He was still walking when BUMP! He bumped into a cactus. He said 'Arooo --- I'm lost and I'm lonely' and pulled the stuff off of his nose."


The coyote is the little cowboy, right?


"Right. And then a snake met the little cowboy. He said, 'if I were lost, I'd follow your nose. Your nose always knows the way.' So the little coyote started it. And soon SPLASH! The little coyote had fallen in the river and he got wet. He said 'Arooo --- I'm lost and I'm lonely and I'm wet'. And then he met a bird and the bird said 'I would follow the river'. And so he followed the river and then down he fell into a deep dark hole in the ground. And then he said 'Arooo --- I'm lost and I'm lonely and I'm down in a dark hole'. And then a frog said 'ask me' and he said 'no, I asked the moon and the moon brought me into a cactus. I followed a snake and fell into the river and got wet. I followed a bird and fell in here. So I say NO!' And besides, he was a little angry. So at last, he said 'okay'. So the toad said 'I would howl as loud as you could.' So he did. He went 'Arooo --- I'm lost and I'm lonely' and then his mother found him. And then he said 'Mother, I'm glad that you found me.' 'I found you by listening with my ears', said the mom. So the little coyote told his mom 'I followed the moon and I pricked myself into a cactus. And then I followed a snake and fell into the river. And then I followed a bird and fell into the hole. So that's why I howled. And then you came mommy. I'm glad that you found me mommy.' 'Now follow me', said the mom, 'I know the way.' So he followed his mommy that way. And then they sang a song, 'Arooooo!'"

"Okay, that's the whole book."

Merry, does that kind of thing ever happen to you?

"Yes. It happens to everyone."

And who will help you when you are lost and lonesome?

"I will yell loud and someone will eventually find me. And that's what I would do."

Do you think the coyote's mommy was a good mommy?

"Yes, I think the coyotes mommy was a good mommy. All mommys are good mommys."

P5140296 Merry and book resized and edited

Hmmm...I hope that she always feels that way. I pray I'll always be the good mommy she believes me to now that she is six years old.

LITTLE LOST COWBOY is written by Simon Puttock and illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

FULL OF WONDERFULNESS

What a wonderful, wonderful Mothers Day it has been. The kids and hubby have spoiled me rotten, case in point, this fabulous from-scratch cheese cake.

P5130278 Betsie and Elysa and cake

And God spoiled me pretty good with a good service at our church this morning and wonderful worship and fellowship time with our downtown We Will Go family this afternoon and evening.

I would share more details, but I just got home a bit a go and this mama is needing her bed.

Lots of loving can wear an old girl out.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU SEE

If you were to base your understanding of my family's dynamics based on this photo...

IMG_1853 Elyaa, Edward, and Mom Evelyn resized

...you'd probably get it wrong. My brother comes across as a grumpy, rebellious, independent kid while I look like a sweet, quiet, needed-to-cling-to-my-mama kid.

None of those things are true.  My brother was the painfully shy kid who never was mean to anyone in his life. well, except for maybe my cat, my Barbies, and --- on ocassion --- me.  I was independent sometimes to a fault, was often mean, and though I wasn't overtly rebellious in the big ways, I definitely pushed the envelope as far as I could get away with and still be a "good girl".

And my mama.  Well, she does look like the modest, behind-the-scenes person that she often is in real life. But what you can't see, is the big impact she has made on the world.

As an English teacher with a career that lasted decades, she helped many students learn to be good writers and better speakers.  She gave them the tools they needed to not just suceed academically, but to suceed in life as they were able to clearly communicate professionaly and personally.

Over the years, she also helped countless people as a pastor's wife, faithful friend, good neighbor, loyal daughter, missions supporter, always-there grandma, and community servant.

And for me and my brother, everything we are doing for this world as we walk out God's call on our lives has somehow been affected by her being our mother. 

What this photo doesn't show is the endless hours, the days, the weeks, the months, the years, that our mom was pouring into our lives.  She not only excelled in the basic care of us --- the feeding, clothing, caring, etc. --- but also in loving us, teaching us to love others, and most importantly, teaching us to love God.  All the books read, homework assignments helped with, birthday parties thrown, plays and concerts attended, Christmas presents bought, cooking lessons given, church activities encouraged, scripture verses practiced, tears wiped away, laundry washed, and advice given, all of these things were done out of love.

The photo doesn't show you so many things ---- the good, the bad, the dull, the drudge, or even the excitement.

But what it does show you is two kids and a mom.

And I can guarantee you that if you were to meet us, a whole lot of any good you'd find in me and my brother would be because of this quiet and unassuming mother who faithfully and sacrificially served her family.

I know that growing up I didn't say thank-you nearly enough.  I know that on Mothers Day Sundays during my younger years, I didn't celebrate her nearly enough.  I just don't think as kids we can ever truly appreciate what our moms do for us.  It takes growing up.

Cause as kids, we're kind of like someone looking at an old photograph.  We just don't see the whole story even though we're living it.  All we see is from our own selfish, childish perspective and all too often we focus on what our parents don't do for us.  We get fixated on the stuff they won't buy us and the things they won't let us do and the places they won't let us go and the people they won't let us be with.  Its just like looking at a 2-dimensional photograph.

It isn't until we grow up, and often it takes us becoming parents ourselves, before we see the full picture and realize how much was done for us, even if it wasn't done perfectly.

Mom, if you're reading this, Happy Mothers Day!  No photo will ever be found that captures your true beauty and tells the story of what a wonderful childhood you gave to me and my brother growing up.  Our achievements, sucesses, and victories are also yours.

I love you, Mom!  And never, ever forget that what you did for us and still do for us can never be celebrated enough.

Friday, May 11, 2012

LET THE LITTLE CHILDREN COME


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People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.   Mark 10:13-16 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

EMERGENCY APPEAL for a MISSIONARY

Krista Prince, a missionary in Swaziland, has been keeping me up-to-date about another missionary, Mitch Hildrebrandt, and the extreme medical situation going on with him. Today, she posted this:
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EMERGENCY APPEAL for Mitch Hildebrant

If you've been around Children's Cup much, you know we don't use language like this very often at all. But we have a crisis and we need your help.

Children's Cup Swaziland Director Mitch Hildebrant has been in the hospital in Africa for seven weeks, with a projected six more weeks to go. He is battling complications following a surgery in his intestine.

Here's a short version of why Mitch is in the hospital in Africa:

A little over seven weeks ago, he had an emergency appendectomy in Swaziland, during which the doctors discovered a problem in his intestine. They successfully removed the affected portion of his intestine, but over the following days, a leak developed in Mitch's intestine, creating a very dangerous situation. Mitch was rushed to South Africa where a higher level of care is available
 
After several emergency surgeries and procedures, Mitch is stable, on a feeding tube and various other supports, and is being observed closely through a very slow recovery process that so far has been laden with setbacks.

We have been in consultation with several medical professionals in the USA and their consensus is that Mitch is receiving a very high level of care in South Africa, and that relocating him to the USA in his current condition would not be worth the potential risks involved.

Children's Cup is committed to stand with Mitch and Char through this. We are doing all we can to help them financially, but the truth is that we don't have a solution on our own. But we do have you, and we're praying that God has already put some of you in a position where you'll be able to help. Right now in ICU, every day that passes is another $5,000 in expenses.

Every Children's Cup missionary has medical insurance, but due to the extremity of Mitch's situation, they have exceeded their insurance's cap. In Africa, that means it is now a pay-as-you-go system, meaning that if the bills aren't paid as we go, he will be discharged.
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The only way to avoid that is for us to raise a lot of funds very quickly (doctors estimate the total needed will be more than $200,000). Will you pray for Mitch and give what you can to help today? Thank you for engaging this challenge. We know that God will be glorified through it all if we'll simply do what he asks us to do.

You can give online at http://childrenscup.org/give-now and choose "EMERGENCY MEDICAL FUND" from the list. That is the quickest way to help, but if you prefer to send a check, you can send one to:
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Children's Cup
P.O. Box 400
Prairieville, LA 70769
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and make sure it is tagged "EMERGENCY MEDICAL FUND."
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WE NEED YOU TO GIVE TODAY
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Mitch and his wife Char carry a high level of responsibility and have excelled in their roles with Children's Cup. But as you might imagine, these are challenging times for Mitch and Char. Their faith is strong, but the challenge is tremendous.

When you help with this need, you're helping us to keep giving hope to them and to many more.
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Thank you for doing what you can!
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For updates on Mitch, stay tuned here on our facebook page and be sure to post some encouragement on their facebook wall, too. (http://facebook.com/mitchchar)

Mitch and Char Hildebrandt  Swaziland cropped and resized


Let's stand together on the truth that with God nothing is impossible as we uphold Mitch and Char. Pray for healing, for wisdom for the doctors and everyone involved. Pray for peace and strength for both Mitch and Char. And pray for God's glory and presence to fill their lives like never before.

Thank you in Jesus' name.
Krista Prince

To read more about the Hildrebrandt's ministry in Swaziland and to keep up with news regarding Mitch's medical condition, you can visit their blog:  
http://mitchionary.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A THREE PIECER KIND OF DAY

Who knows why some days are harder than others.

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In fact, some days nothing goes wrong yet it feels like I just need to escape to a Thai resort or hire on a full-time nanny/governess/secretary/housekeeper.

So yeah...today is one of those kind of days.

A day when long before it is the one hour of afternoon quiet time. I am sp ready for it to be quiet time.

Is it possible that after all these years of having poor hearing due to multiple ear infections, drum ruptures, tubes, and surgery, that I'm regaining my hearing?


Either that or my kids have learned a whole new way to really project their voices.

On days like today, I find myself praying, and eating a square of dark chocolate, and reading my Bible behind closed doors, and eating another square of dark chocolate, and watching funny Anjelah Johnson/Bon Qui Qui videos, and dodging my son's question about what's for supper, and watching yet another Anjelah Johnson video, and finally succumbing to a third piece of dark chocolate.

Yeah, I could be tackling some project that needs to be done to get our house ready to sell and get us ready to move. I could be sorting thru those huge piles of books, getting rid of the other pile comprised of clothes on our bedroom chair, or even getting stuff ready to go to the consignment shop. After all, those accomplished tasks would probably take some of the stress off of me that I'm feeling.

Hmmm...

Some more hmmm...

And even more hmmmmm....

Nah.

I think I'll just watch one more Anjelah Johnson video and then aimlessly wander around the house for a while til I feel so guilty I finally do something productive.

Yep, that's how we Super Moms deal with days like today.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

EVEN DIRTY DISHES...


...are lovelier in Thailand.  These are a pile of dishes I spied after a church service in Chang Rai.  Never have dirty dishes made me so happy.

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A little over a year ago, I spent a week with Betsie before I accompanied her back home. I admit freely that the Thai people are some of the most beautiful people I've ever met and my time there was absolutely one of the most wonderful weeks of my life. I've told people that if God hadn't already set my heart on Africa, I'd be begging Him to let me live in Thailand. As it is, I'm already hoping that Betsie ends up living there so I'll have many excuses to visit.

And if my word isn't enough to convince you of its fabulous factor, check out this blog:

http://www.journeymama.com/

Rachel Devenish Ford not only writes scrumptious descriptions, but she captures images in such a way that make me want to pack up my bags and leave now!

So happy traveling friends...even if it is only in your dreams and thru the lens of a very perceptive observer.

Monday, May 07, 2012

WOULD YOU PRAY?

Lots of things going on that really need praying about. Would you join with us as we pray for these matters?

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*We are getting more involved with the ministry and community at WE WILL GO but we can't really do much more til we live there. Please pray that our house will sell so we can move there this summer.

*We're not the only family moving to WE WILL GO. There are two other families answering the call to serve in down-town Jackson. One family needs their home to sell, like we do, and the other family needs to be released from their lease. Prayers for these families would be so appreciated.

*David and Amy Lancaster are the founders of WE WILL GO. A couple of weeks ago, David's dad died. This is really a hard season for them as they deal with his passing plus take care of ministry responsibilities plus take care of extended family responsibilities. Please pray for them to have true rest, peace, and comfort during this time.

*Please keep praying for Di Hampson in Swaziland, her family, and all those who love Mike and are still mourning and feeling his loss. Di is the director of Moriah Centre and the new school term starts tomorrow. Just pray for all involved during this hard time.

*Mitch Hildebrandt, Children's Cup missionary in Swaziland, still needs full healing from his surgery that took place a couple of months ago. Pray for his recovery but pray that God will use him and Char in amazing ways during his extended hospitalization and as they interact with the staff.

*My friend --- and one of my favorite authors --- Claudia Mair Burney has a son who is a miracle but still needs prayer. Last week, he fell about 30 feet. He broke every bone in his body, fractured his skull, and had many other broken bones and injuries. Praise God, he not only survived, but after surgery and other care, he actually can sit up and stand some now. Pray that he is totally healed but also pray for his family members. They need strength and provision during this time of healing.

*Anna's team leaves for Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya in less than a month. Anna is just a couple of hundred dollars away from receiving all she needs for her trip but several of her team members still need much larger sums. Pray that they'll receive the provision they need and pray that God will start moving in their hearts to unify them even before they meet.

*The Sims family is saying YES to God and heading to Mozambique to train before going out and serving in Brazil and beyond. They are having a huge rummage sale this Saturday as they are selling almost everything they own. They are also selling their home. Pray that it goes thru as it needs to and pray for them to trust as God makes everything happen that needs to happen. Pray also for their three children as all this transpires. Pray God is going to do absolutely amazing things in their young lives.

Thank you friends.  Without prayer, we cannot stand.  We cannot move forward.  We cannot accomplish what God is calling all of us to do.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

THE DEEP END OF LIFE

Jim, our kids, and I aren't the only ones in our extended family dreaming about Africa these days.  Jim's sister and her husband are also Africa bound.  Her husband Michael went on a ministry trip last summer to Kenya and now he's returning but with Deidra this time.  It will be her very first mission trip so a lot of new experiences are in store for her.  But as with us, the new experiences don't wait to happen on the mission field.  Like us, she's facing new challenges and learning new lessons even before leaving America.  And believe me, I can relate to a lot of the things she wrote about in her latest blog post:

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Growing up in sunny coastal Southern California was not without its advantages. Beautiful scenery. Balmy weather. And water, water everywhere. Because there was so much water, parents were wise to drown-proof their children as early as possible. My parents were wise. I was drown-proofed at the age of five.

However, some of my earliest memories involving swimming pools are accompanied by a sick stomach and sweaty palms. I'd sit in the backseat, butterflies in my tummy, begging my mom not to make me go. She remained stoic, as well she should have; after all, these lessons might mean the difference between life and death someday. I also remember fearing the deep end of the pool; it seemed bottomless to me. The fact that my swimming teacher was constantly catching me unawares and pushing me off the edge into water well over head didn’t do much to dissipate that fear.

My parents didn't know it at the time, but this lady specialized in drown-proofing mentally handicapped children. Her methods were, well ... decidedly not tender or sympathetic to tears and trembling bottom lips. The element of surprise was her weapon of choice, and once I learned to keep my head above water, she used it. Her objective was pretty basic – should I ever find myself, unexpectedly, in water over my head, her training would override anything else, and I’d be able to swim.

She was effective. I didn’t drown; I learned to swim; and I am terrified of deep water.

I was thinking about this fear while planning our upcoming mission trip to Kenya. We’ll be flying 6000 miles, a lot of them covered by water. It’s not that I’m scared of dying in a plane crash – I’m scared of the plane crashing into the ocean! As I was thinking about the news stories of jumbo jets crashing into the depths (and not thinking about the work God has for us to do when we get there) I realized something.

I hated going to swimming lessons because I didn’t trust my swimming teacher. Not at all. Nope. Not for a sec. Why? Because she never let me know what was coming. But she never let me drown. I never even came close. She was always in the water with me, ready to intervene should I need rescuing. But she didn’t reach out as long as I kept my head above water. And when I swam, I swam towards her. Her arms represented safety and a respite from the battle against the water. I didn’t trust her because I never knew when I was going to find myself in the deep end. And I hate not knowing what’s coming.

My fear, of the deep, of spiders, of many things in life, is rooted in doubt. Do I trust my Father to save me when I need saving?

I have no reason not to trust Him. I know He’s always there, even when I can’t see Him clearly or feel His touch. He’s never unaware of my circumstances, and He intervenes when He deems necessary. The problem comes when His idea of necessary and my idea of necessary are not the same. Which is pretty much anytime I’m not in control of what’s happening to me.

If my parents had given in to my tears, or the swimming teacher had let me stay in the “safe” shallow end, I wouldn’t have learned to swim. I certainly wouldn’t have learned to override panic and kick for the surface when finding myself in deep water.

In spiritual terms, my Father’s swimming lessons are all about faith. Faith that He has given me everything I need, in Him, to not only survive the world, but to overcome it. Faith that He has a plan and purpose for everything that happens, even when I don’t like it, when it scares me, or when I can’t see how a situation could possibly be worked for my good.

James wrote that we should count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds, because the testing of our faith builds perseverance (James 1: 2-4).

The Message translation says it like this: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

"Under pressure, our faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors". Hum… kind of like being unexpectedly pushed into the deep end. What's deep inside is what comes out.


When we are in over our heads and crying out to God to save us, that’s when we must remember the lessons the Holy Spirit has taught. We have to kick for the surface and swim with all our might towards His arms. We know the direction, even when temporarily blinded by fear.

Everything in our lives is allowed by Him and often for a purpose that we can’t see or understand. But He always has a purpose and plan. Always. “Plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11, The Message).

Kind of like those swimming lessons I dreaded so much.
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To read more about the journey that God is taking Deidra and Michael on, visit her blog: