Wednesday, October 31, 2012


My eyes beheld some wonderful images today --- the little kids looking all cute in fun costumes for the church activities they attended, the beautiful full moon as Jim and I walked home, and the delicious array of food set out for our We Will Go fellowship meal tonight were just some of them.

But the two images that stand out are of my two oldest sons worshiping the Lord tonight at the special time our ministry had tonight and...

So blessed by these young worship leaders.

...sweet Katrina with her 40th birthday cake. She's one of our neighbors. She's facing some rough things right now but she chose to come out and spend her birthday night with us.

And many more!

Halloween can be really rough for a lot of the folks in our area of the city. We've been told that violence and other  deeds of darkness really increase on this night. We Will Go holds an outdoor night of praise, prayer, scripture, and testimony every October 31st. We do this to push back the darkness, to bring the love light of Jesus into our neighborhood, and to provide a safe, welcoming place for people like Katrina.

We want our neighbors to always know that Jesus is their safe place. An ever help in times of danger. The One who will never turn them away. The One who is bigger than all the evil in this world. The One who has and does and will overcome the darkness. And the one, if they will only trust Him, will help them fight every rough thing coming their way. He'll stand right by their side, no matter what.

He'll do that for me. He'll do it for you, too.

[F]or everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

I John 5:4-5

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


In last night's blog post, I referred to the widow in the Bible who Jesus praised for giving what she had. As a follow-up, I want to share an article that my daughter Betsie wrote for a website that Betsie writes for weekly:
A widow's mite.
Two Pennies And Four Quarters by Betsie Joy MacLellan

“Will you be taking up offering tonight?”

It was a Thursday night in the hood, and my mom had just finished leading a Bible study in Galatians when she was asked this question, “Will you be taking up offering tonight?” The lady who had addressed my mom was one of our neighbors, and we know her well. She is over fifty years old and walks more than four miles several times a week to attend our Bible studies and church services at We Will Go Ministries.

She doesn’t just attend our Bible studies and church services, though. No, she arrives early to every single one so that she can serve us. It is not at all an uncommon sight to see this precious lady hefting four bags of canned goods through our houses as I trail behind her, attempting–and failing–to catch up while staggering underneath the weight of just two. She is a saint.

So here we were, A normal Thursday night in the hood. My mom had just finished leading a Bible study in Galatians when our sweet neighbor asked if we would be taking up an offering?

“We usually do that on Sundays, but I can take your offering now if you want,” my mother answered.

“Please,” our neighbor said as she opened her hand and held out four quarters.

When my mom recounted this moment to me, I started crying. I immediately thought of a similar scene that took place over two thousand years ago. One day, after Jesus had finished teaching in the temple, he quietly sat down opposite the treasury and watched, unnoticed, as people put their money into the offering box. He witnessed many wealthy people drenched in finery and mock humility make a show of tithing large sums before the crowd. It was a competition to see who could give the most while the most people noticed. They had perverted the righteous act of tithing into a farce. For them, it was no longer about giving to the Lord, but rather building up their own name.

But who was this? In between the parading Pharisees and Sadducees, a poor widow woman clothed in rags made her way quietly to the treasury box. She did not call anyone’s attention to herself; rather, she was ignored and overlooked. She was content with this, though, for when she withdrew two small copper coins from her pouch, she desired only God as a witness.

After she had dropped her humble offering into the treasury, she left just as silently as she had came, unnoticed, or so she thought. One had noted her sacrifice, and He quickly brought it to the attention of His scattered disciples as He called them to him. “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)

When we give, God does not look at the amount. He looks at its worth to us. If Bill Gates gave $200 to dig wells that would provide sanitary water for families in Africa, that would be awesome and help a lot of families in Africa. It would not make a dent in the mountain of cash he has accumulated, though.

However, if I, a senior in high school who works a minimum wage paying job, gave $200 to dig wells that would provide sanitary water for families in Africa, that would be awesome and help just as many families in Africa. It would also completely clean out my entire bank account. $200 is almost all I have to my name. $200 is everything I have. Where Bill Gates could drop two one hundred dollar bills and not even miss it, giving up two one hundred dollar bills would require sacrificing everything I have. There would be nothing left.

Our sweet neighbor shares a house with three other people. Her room is the living room where she sleeps on the couch. She doesn’t even own a wardrobe or chest of drawers to keep her belongings in. Plastic grocery bags lined against the wall are her substitute. To her, four quarters is her everything. It’s her best.

Now, there is nothing wrong or un-Biblical with Bill Gates giving $200 to dig wells that will provide sanitary water for families in Africa. In fact, Mr. Gates, sir, if you have $200 you are just dying to blow, I have a brother who is in desperate need of funds for the mission trip to Swaziland he is taking this summer. That’s not what I’m talking about, though. What I’m saying, and more importantly, what Jesus said, is that it’s not about what you give, but rather what you withhold.

Only giving in your abundance does not change or affect your life. Neither does giving everything you have. No, when you give everything you have, it does not merely change or affect your life, it becomes your life. Selflessly sacrificing your own so as to meet the needs of others will not be something recreational you do, but rather it will be who you are. Mother Teresa once said, “At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made [or given away], how many great things we have done.

We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.’ Hungry not only for bread–but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing–but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for a want of a room of bricks–but homeless because of rejection. This is Christ in distressing disguise.”

So what if you gave the girl who was kicked out of her house directions to the shelter when you have a perfectly fine spare room in your own house? So what if you offered the homeless man by the bus station the part of your footlong you were too full to eat when you have a fridge filled to the max with food beginning to spoil because you can’t eat it all? So what if you gave the inner-city ministry your old holey socks when you immediately go and buy yourself a new Juicy Couture minidress for $348.00? You might as well not even give the inner-city ministry your old holey socks. The Lord knows they don’t want them, either! An offering is not an offering unless you have to sacrifice something to give it.

1 John 3:17-18 “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” But in deed… The definition of the word “deed” is “an action that is performed intentionally or consciously”. It’s an action. I don’t know what this verse looks like to you, or how the Lord would have you live it out, but I do know that it does not and never will look like withholding.

To read more of Betsie's articles and those by other website contributors, visit:

Monday, October 29, 2012


My day began focused on the importance of sharing food with those in need and now has been capped off by a related incident. Except this time, I was not the giver, I was the object of the compassion.
PA290394 cropped Elysa We Will Go

This morning, We Will Go hosted a lively, bright, adorable group of 1st Graders from Davis Elementary School right here on our street. They have been studying the idea that we all live on one planet and need to share the resources we have. One area they are specifically focusing on is the need to give food to those in need, hence, their visit to We Will Go to donate food and learn how we're helping those who are hungry in our city
We Will Go Ashley and Merry edited

I had a fun time getting to know the kids and loved telling them not only about what we do here, with some great help from my two youngest kids and fellow missionary Ashley, but also about the hunger situation in Swaziland and what groups are doing through carepoints to provide food for children living in extreme poverty. God directed the morning and I think that for some of the kids, and their teachers, the light bulb really went off and they're going to be more aware of how blessed they are and how much they have to share with those in need.

So fast forward ahead to tonight. After a busy day of meeting my neighbors at the Democratic Party office just down the street from our house, walking around to do some errands, and hosting a group from Mississippi College, the family had supper and then Jim and I went on a prayer walk through our area.

As the sun had already set and a cold snap has hit, it was really, really frigid out there. We've had neighbors --- homeless folks and those just in need of warmer gear --- coming on a regular basis to ask for blankets, warm clothes, coats, and sleeping bags. It is also near the end of the month and so money is getting tight for many and we've been giving out lots of food to hungry folks.

Near the end of our walk, as we came around the north side of the historic Greenwood Cemetery, walking along Davis Street, a car slowed down and pulled up alongside of us. It was an attractive black lady and she wanted to know if we were from this neighborhood and if we were okay. We told her that "we live here" and then she asked if we were missionaries from We Will Go. We said we were. She said she was stopping to see if we needed any food or help, she had a plate sitting next to her in the car. She said it was some extra food she had. She knew how cold it was and just wanted to make sure "people" were okay. After we chatted for a couple of minutes and found out she owned a house nearby, we asked if we could pray for her. She asked us to please pray for her to find a job.

Yes, you heard that right.

This lady stopped on a very dark and intensely cold night to offer strangers food while she herself is in need of a job.


She reminds me of the Bible story about the widow who dropped just a little bit in the offering box at the temple while rich people where giving much more with lots of pomp and circumstance. Jesus praised her for her generosity despite her circumstances.

How often do I only give out of my abundance? How often do I stop and consider if I can afford to share something before I give it away? How often in the past have I let fear keep me from helping others? How often have I only wanted to help those who I felt like deserved my help?

So I began my day telling kids how important it is to share with those in need and had my day finished up with a sweet, unemployed lady stopping to ask me, a stranger walking through a sketchy neighborhood, if I was okay and willing to share her food with me if I needed it.

Oh Lord, help me always be so willing to stop. Help me always be willing to help.

"Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?"

James 2:14-17

Sunday, October 28, 2012


My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God.

Let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. -- I John 4:7

Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!

This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well,we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

I John 4:7-21

Saturday, October 27, 2012


As a kid, I attended Camp Garaywa as a "Girls in Action" camper. In my college years, I spent a summer there as a camper. And then as a mom, I sent my own daughters there.

But despite the nearly forty years that have passed since I first went to Garaywa, some things have not changed.

...or my camper days.
The Cabins still look like I remember them from the 70's.

Some things never change at Camp Garaywa.
And this sweet lady's portrait still gazes serenely over the dining hall.

But some things have definitely changed not just from my childhood days as a camper but also my summer as a counselor in the late 80's.

And some things do!
WiFi is now available.  WiFi hadn't even been invented yet back during my earlier Garayway days.

Dining hall and dining ladies.
The dining hall has been remodeled, expanded, and now offers more options such as a salad bar and all-you-can-drink soda machines.

Just like Garaywa has changed some but also stayed the same, so have I.  I'm still going there, but as said earlier, now it is usually in the role of mom-to-campers as I pick my girls up on the last day of camp, watch their closing program, and meet their counselors and friends.

And this weekend, I filled a new Garaywa role, that of the speaker and guest missionary.  My sweet friend Donna, a fellow MUW alum, asked me to be the speaker for her church's ladies retreat. 

Retreat love :)

It was a bit surreal to be walking the same cracked sidewalks, eating in the same cafeteria, and strolling under the same Spanish moss decked trees that filled my days in the past but now in this new position.

Some timings haven't changed since my counselor days.

But something else hasn't changed even if I'm older, wiser, and not crying my eyes out due to homesickness. God hasn't changed.

He is still the same God that saw that pudgy, freckly, sick-at-her-stomach little girl that I was and loved me unconditionally. He saw all flaws and chose me anyway, desired to have me as His girl and use me for His Kingdom.

And now He sees this wrinkled, freckly, addicted-to-chocolate, middle-aged mama that I am and loves me unconditionally. He sees all my flaws and choses me anyway, desires to have me as His bride and use me for His Kingdom.

That's what He did this weekend. I didn't do it perfectly. I often lost my train of thought or stumbled for the right way to phrase something. My notes were messy and I possibly talked way too long and too much, but He knew that in advance and still planned for me to be the speaker anyway.

He's amazing that way.

He is good and all-knowing and never, ever messes up. He never stumbles for the right words or gets stressed out. He is totally capable of doing all that needs to be done on His own with nothing from us, but that's not how He works.

He chooses us, and all our imperfections, and let's us join with Him in the glorious plans He has to draw people to Him and give them the same new life that He has blessed us with.

That's one thing that never changes and for that, I am very, very grateful.

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

Ephesians 1:3-12

Friday, October 26, 2012


Oh Lord, help this sinner!

Here I am, preparing to speak to a ladies' group at a retreat this weekend and I'm letting sin wiggle it's way right into my spirit.

Ephesians 1

I'm desperately trying to prepare for the retreat. I've got some sermons online that I want to listen to, I've got some scripture passages I want to write down and take note of, I've got time with the Lord that I need to spend just praying. I really, really, REALLY want to spend the next couple of hours focused on God and what I'm going to share and instead, a kid needs help with math, another kid can't find the keys to the ministry shop, one of the little ones is doing a terrible job with tying his shoes, and another one is asking for graham crackers even though it is our daily "quiet time" for Pete's sake! And on top of all that, my husband asked me to give some food to a neighbor and actually minister to him! Minister to a neighbor??!?!?!?!? DOESN'T HE KNOW I AM TRYING TO PREPARE FOR MY TALK!????!????


Like I said, I'm a sinner.

Here I am, about to share some living bread of life with a group of women and I'm stressing out because I keep getting interrupted by my sweet, blessing family.

See, I'm stressed out for two reasons.

Okay, probably more than two but two that are obvious to me right now.

First, I'm just a selfish self-centered person. I want my "me" time and I want to be left alone. I've got two talks to prepare for. I've got a group of ladies who are coming and expecting something. And by heck, I want to do a good job and them to be impressed with how awesome I was.

There, I said it. I know it is ugly, but it is true. How the heck am I supposed to impress them with a good message if I have to actually minister to my in-need kids, husband, and neighbor???

Second, I do want what I say to be used by God to change their lives. Yes, I don't want to mess up and be boring but a big part of me, the part that is like Jesus, wants to give something to these women that will draw them closer to the Lord. I want them to hear tonight and tomorrow morning the words of God that will free them up to live the life GOD wants them to live. For some of them, they need to meet the Lord as a real person for the very first time. For others, they know him but they've let their relationship grow distant. And for some, they are really in love with Jesus but need something to happen so they can move to the next phase God has for them.

I want those things for them. And I don't want them not to get out of it what God wants them to get out of it because I wasn't properly prepared.


But see, it isn't about me. The only person I should really care about impressing is God and I know, because I do know Him, that He'd rather me take the time and patiently help my son with his shoe strings and sweetly share some food and pray with a neighbor than to spend hours and hours of prep time and have a perfectly smooth message that came at the cost of not loving those around me.

And I also know that God is bigger than me.

I forget that.

A lot.

I forget that He KNOWS I'm not perfect and He chooses to use me anyway. Heck, my friend Donna knows I'm not perfect and chose to ask me anyway. I can fool some people into thinking that I've got my act 100% together but I can't fool the Lord. He knows areas that need cleaning up that I'm not even aware of. Yet.

He knows that I'm not going to say everything right. He knows that I'm a busy mom with seven kids, a living and breathing husband, and a neighborhood full of folks who need prayer, food, clothes, and just someone to listen to them and show some interest in their lives.

But what is really, really cool is that not only does He choose to use me despite my flaws and sins and lack, but He is BIGGER THAN I AM. He is bigger than my failings. He is bigger than my mess-ups. He is bigger than my wrong thinking. He is bigger than my everything.

He is even bigger than my best.

What I have to cling to is that God loves these ladies more than I love these ladies. I don't even KNOW most of these ladies.

But He's known them before the foundations of the earth were layed. He knit them together in their mothers' wombs. He desires that none of them will perish but that all of them will have everlasting life through His son Jesus. He wants all of them to walk in His fullness and grace. He wants all of them to know that He is passionately in love with them and if they will just say "yes" to Him and His calling and ways, that He will give them a life better and more beautiful than they can ever imagine.

And just like He is using pitiful, little ole, irritated-easily me, to do amazing things for His Kingdom, He wants to use them, too.

He's not going to let me stop Him from speaking to those women. He's not going to let my imperfections hide His perfections. If they are wanting and open and listening, then He's going to make sure that they hear and see and experience what they need to hear and see and experience.

God is bigger than I am. God along is perfect. God alone can draw people to Him. God alone can save. God alone. God alone. God alone.

Yes, He wants to use me. And He wants to use you. And He will use us, even though we might not get that perfect, uninterrupted time that we wish we had.

God knows.

And God still chooses.

He chooses me.

He chooses you.

And He chooses those women at the retreat tonight.

And He tell them that He chooses them even if I have a bad hair day.

Dear Lord, please forgive me for being stupid enough to think it is all about me and my perfection. Please forgive me for resenting the precious family you have blessed me with. Lord, you know that my busy life means I don't get the time spent alone with you, locked away in preparation. You know that I am a sinner who gets more concerned about what I'm going to wear than pleasing You at times. Help me to always remember that You are ultimately who I want to please. Help me to remember that all my words are nothing if I don't have love, love for You and love for those You have put in my life. Please forgive me God for my sins. Thank you that You keep loving me anyway. Thank you that You keep using me anyway. And Lord, please speak through me tonight and tomorrow. Please give me Your words of life and grace and love and truth. Please open my ears to hear Your heart. Please open these women's ears to hear your voice. Please set us all free, Lord, from the lies we believe from the destroyer and the lies we tell ourselves. Help us Lord to fall deeper in love with You and to believe only what You want to speak to our loves. Thank You, Lord. I love you. Thank You for Jesus who died for me, not because I deserved it but just because You wanted me as yours.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Today I am thankful to the Lord for sweet times with my funny, beautiful Betsie Joy.

Dork Sweets @ Brent's Drugs

I would be thankful anyway for our good relationship and the chances to just hang out together, like we did this past Monday at Brent's Drugs diner with our friend Amanda, but I'm especially thankful because these times are limited. This time next year, she'll be in college, I'll be in Colorado at missionary training school with the family, and three months later, Jim and I will be moving the five youngest kids to Africa while Betsie and Anna stay here in the States.

So yes, I am very, very thankful for sweet times with my darling girl.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


What's making YOU smile this morning?

I'm smiling over...

PA240306 More editing Elysa and chocolate wrap

*Russian chocolate that my missionary friend Jamie brought me
*Bouncy Reliant K music
*Links shared on my facebook wall by women I love
*A fellow We Will Go missionary getting up unexpectedly at 5:20 this morning (without grumbling and complaining) to take me and my friend to the airport because my van started having issues
*God's amazing grace
*Anticipating sharing about Africa and missions with Laura's Girls in Action class tonight at First Baptist Jackson
*How good Jim looks in his new blue suit
*Knowing that people are praying for us
*The sunlight through my back door's window
*Catching Betsie reading her Bible on the front porch

PA240296 Betsie reading Bible MOST EDITED

What I'm NOT smiling over?

How bad seven year old Merry's hands smell! UGH! That "dirt" she was playing in smells a lot like cat poo!

Oh well....back to the smiles.  AFTER she gets those hands washed!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


A few days ago, I shared with my readers the blog post written by my friend Jenifer Peterson about a baby boy in Swaziland who had been found in a toilet pit. I wanted to share Jenifer's update with you and ask you to continue praying for him and all involved. Here's what Jen has to say:

Swaziland Baby Joseph Petersons framed

The response to the blog about baby Joseph was overwhelming, beautiful and amazing! Almost 600 people read the blog from the AIM website alone and with the number of people who have shared it with friends...most likely close to 1000 people know about this amazing little baby boy and are praying for him!! I wanted to give an update so you all know how to pray.

Claire, Jacob and I went to visit Joseph today. He is no longer under the special light as his jaundice has improved. He appeared much more hydrated today. His eyes were wide open and he was responsive to our touch and our voices. All three of us were able to hold him and sing to him and pray for him. He had a wet diaper while we were there...YAY!! He continues to amaze us...

Over the weekend I have been in touch with two different places that are willing to take Joseph. Two wonderful ministries here in Swaziland that are equipped to take in abandoned babies and children. As Joseph's story continues to unfold, however, I am reminded that he is in God's hands, not mine! The nursing staff at the hospital we visited today informed me that Joseph was going to be transferred to a different hospital. They also let me know that the gogo (grandmother) might be taking Joseph home after the police are through with their investigation. It is clear to me that without knowing the language and without a full understanding of this culture, I am ill-equipped in being an advocate for this baby.

In the last couple of days I have received many emails asking me: "How can I adopt him?"

My first reaction is: "Get in line!!" Believe me, if the road to adopting Joseph was clearly marked, our family would be on it!

The truth is, adoption in Swaziland is complicated right now.  As unjust and unfair as it may seem, it just is not an open road right now. I have trusted sources that tell me this issue is being worked out...I pray, pray, pray that those sources are accurate!

However, above all, I am reminded of a few things:

* We are visitors in this culture...there are so many things we don't understand and even though it is easy to assume 'our way' is superior...we must be sensitive to the way this culture handles these matters.

*As much as I (and perhaps, you!) feel responsibility for this baby boy...he was born into a family, into a community, into a system, into a culture that has to now assume responsbility for him.

*I truly had no right in naming this boy...'Joseph' is just the identity I will always attach to him. He may have been named at birth, the nursing staff may have given him a more culturally appropriate name...perhaps he will be given a name by his gogo or some other caregiver...the point is...God knows his name.

*I will do whatever I can do to be a voice for this child, an advocate for his well-being...but I will not do what is not mine to do. I give those things to the Lord. God help me, I will bite my tongue and stomp my own feet numb if need be...but I will surrender to His Authority and trust in His sovereignty...even when it makes no sense to me.

Baby Joseph truly couldn't be in better Hands than that.

To read more about the Peterson's ministry in Swaziland and follow this story, visit Jenifer's blog at .

Monday, October 22, 2012


Anna in Africa edited and cropped square

"365 million+ orphans, while the church is busy building coffee shops. O Lord awaken the church with revival not caffeine."

~Heather Elyse

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring
 for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."

James 1:27

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Would you pray for us and our loved ones today? Just a lot going on that needs prayer coverage.


First thing going on this morning is that Betsie and David are helping lead worship this morning as some of our regular worship team at Restoration Church is out of town. Betsie is still pretty shook up from last night.

Oh? Didn't mention that yet? A deer slammed into Jim's truck while Betsie was driving last night. Beat up the truck pretty bad but Betsie is physically fine. Just still not recovered emotionally. Pray for her to have God's peace and joy and not to be fearful when driving. Safe, but not fearful.

Our ministry founder, Amy Lancaster, and her daughter Sarah are on their way home from Mozambique right now. Please pray for safety.

Another prayer request where safety is concerned? Pray for Anna. She returns to her college life in New Orleans this evening.

Pray for our We Will Go service this afternoon. Pray that God will move mighty, changing the hearts of "church" people and "street" people.

Also, pray for our family's hearts and spirits. Some people are really feeling stressed out right now or full of turmoil. Pray that the Spirit of God will take over.

Patrick is applying to go to Swaziland this coming summer with AIM.  Would you pray for him and his upcoming interview?

And lastly, please keep praying for Baby Joseph in Swaziland that I posted about last night.

Thanks so much! I don't understand why God uses prayer, but He tells us to do it and over and over again, I've seen Him use it to change lives, circumstances, and hearts.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


This is from Jenifer Peterson, Adventures in Missions staffer in Nsoko, Swaziland:

Friday afternoon Eric told me: "A community member found a baby in one of the long drop toilets...he was alive."

What does a heart do with that statement? How do you wrap your mind around such depravity; such darkness; such despair? I could feel a hard shell start to try and form its way around my heart in order to prevent me from taking it in too deeply and truly feel the meaning of the words. A throwaway a long drop...tossed away like waste...

I could not get the image out of my head all night. I knew I had to go see this little one who spent some of his first hours on this earth in such filth. I had to see this miracle with my own eyes and speak life and truth over this child in contrast to the death and decay he had been covered in.

This morning, along with Claire and one of our Swazi friends, Mxolisi, we went to visit the chief's head man for the clan in which this happened. He phoned the police and we had to pay a visit to the station house to get clearance from them, as this is not only a tribal/community matter but also a police investigation. A jacket identified as belonging to the mother of the infant was found near the scene. The young woman will most likely face serious charges. After being cleared, we drove the 50 minutes to the small rural hospital where the baby had been taken. We arrived on the ward and spoke to the nurse in charge. She brought us to two double doors and as she opened them we caught our first glimpse of the baby...a tiny, perfect baby boy laid out on a full size hospital bed. There is a small space heater in the corner of the room which makes the temperature in the room uncomfortably hot...but probably just right for this little being wearing only a diaper. He has a single IV coming out of one arm. His head is wrapped in a bandage, covering his eyes to protect him from the blue light he is under. Apparently he is a bit jaundiced, so the light will help with that. He has a few small scrapes on his tummy (the end of his umbilical cord still attached), a couple bruises on his leg and a good size abrasion along his cheek...probably sustained from his cruel drop down the 10-15 foot toilet hole. His breathing is strong. He reacts to my finger tickling the bottom of his perfect, brown foot. He clings to Claire's finger with his fingers. He is a fighter!

Swaziland Baby Joseph from Petersons

I tell the nurse that if I were to name this boy, I would name him Joseph. I ask her if she knows the story from the Old Testament about a boy who also was thrown into a pit and was saved because God had great things planned for his life. She smiled and her eyes are kind as she looks down at the baby...our Joseph. She nods her head slowly. "Joseph" she says softly. She takes a small syringe out of a cup containing white liquid (formula, I guess) and puts it to Joseph's mouth. Even in his sleep, his beautiful full lips pucker around the tip and he sucks the contents of the syringe with vigor. She gives him another syringe full and sets the cup back on the bedside table before she exits the room.

Claire, Mxolisi and I stand around the bed in awe of this incredible little gift.

"God is so good. God is just so good!" Mxolisi says this phrase over and over.

I find my Bible in my bag and read from Genesis 50:20 "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."

Placing my hand over his small chest, I can feel the satisfying beat of his heart. I start to pray. Thanking God for knowing this child before he was even born and knitting him together in his mother's womb. Praising God for protecting him while he was in the pit toilet. Praising God for the man who went in to use the outdoor toilet and then, hearing the cries coming up out of the darkness went for help in rescuing the baby. Thanking God for showing us that he has a plan over this baby boy's life. Asking God to continue to protect Joseph and cause him to grow ever stronger and healthier each day forward. Proclaiming that the beginning of this boy's life does not define how it will end! I also prayed for the heart of the mother who discarded her child; that God would pursue her and get a hold of her heart for His will to be done also in her life. I anoint the baby with oil as a sign that he has been set apart for great things in the Kingdom of the Lord.

I remember the day each one of my babies was born, something Eric and I did once we were settled in the recovery room with our small bundle. I start to sing and slowly Claire and Mxolisi join their voices in the celebratory chorus:

"Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you

Happy Birthday, dear Joseph...

Happy Birthday to you!"

Claire and I both take turns holding Joseph and giggle together when he finally opens his eyes, just for a brief couple of seconds in that sleepy, non-focused way newborns view the world. After settling him back under his light in the too big bed we leave the room, briefly looking back at the mighty, tiny warrior that we will always know as Joseph.

What will become of little Joseph? I don't know. Thankfully I know the God who does and I believe with an ardent faith that His plans and purpose for this wee one were spoken and set before time began and His love for Joseph will carry him through the days to come.


Would you please join me in praying for baby Joseph, his caregivers, and his birth mother?  Pray that through all of this God will be glorified and many will be drawn closer to Him.  Pray that Baby Joseph's little life will be used to do big things in the hearts and lives of many.  Thank you.

To read more about the Petersons' ministry in Swaziland and for future updates on Baby Joseph, visit their blog:

Friday, October 19, 2012


When we lived in the country, we had plenty of critters. The kids could get a furry fix (or feathered one) whenever they needed it. One of the things we couldn't bring with us to the city was our animals. So when the younger Macs get the chance to play with a cat or snuggle with a dog, it is a real treat.

Puppy love 'hood style.


Today's object of Laura's affection was Baby, the Lancasters' poodle. They live over on Base 2, just 3 blocks from our house and a short walk through the 'hood.

Big hair reigns

Giving up our pets to follow the call of God for our lives was hard on the kids, but Jesus is worth it, and as a mama, I'm thankful for the times that they get some animal time. For as you can see, some time spent cuddling and scratching and petting and holding brought some smiles to my beautiful girl's face today. And that brought smiles to mine.

Poodle delight

I can't help but think that it makes the Father smile, too.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Today, I am especially thankful for the women who fill my days here at We Will Go.


Neighbors like Rose, up above, who was wearing reading glasses identical like mine tonight. I love giving her big hugs and she almost always makes me laugh.

My daughters, who so faithfully and trustingly are following me and their daddy on this journey of faith.

Other We Will Go missionaries, like Nancy who shared hot tea and brownies with me this afternoon at Love House, and Ashley, who led Bible Study tonight.

Unexpected company, such as the Bigler girls who I saw at nearby Two Sisters' Restaurants today and invited in for a quick visit.

Friends and strangers who bring by donations, like the lady who saw our ministry on tv and brought clothes, or my college friend Janet, who dropped off some food earlier this week.

And then there are the visitors who come to We Will Go to serve. Some, like the 6th grade girls from First Baptist Jackson who came last evening and helped in the clothing ministry, are here for just an hour or two. Others, like my missionary friend Amanda Larsen, who arrived from Haiti last night, stay for an extended visit, and for a while, become part of our We Will Go family.

All of them add something to my life here, something unique and precious. And for all of these women, I am thankful to my good Father who is constantly in the business of surprising me with His amazing gifts.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows."

--- James 1:17

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


No, I need to amend that. I know I'm in love.

I have long loved burgers. I remember thinking it was so cool to be able to put my own toppings on them at Burger Chef back in the 1970's. I remember putting french fries and pork-n-beans on my burgers for the first time while living in our beach cottage when I was a pre-teen. And I still remember an amazing truck stop burger featuring guacamole and corn chips in Junction, Texas. I could go on and on retelling memorable burger moments because, as I said, I have long loved burgers.

Burger book
So today, when I saw this Rachael Ray cookbook sitting on the shelf behind the circulation desk at the Eudora Welty Library, I knew I had to have it. It was love at first sight. I could go all cliche'ish and say it was love at first bite, but it wasn't. I didn't have to even taste the photographed burger to know that this was one book I had to have and hold as my own.

Quickly asking the librarian if I could check it out, I made that baby mine, well, at least til I can no longer renew it and have to turn it back in. And at that point, I really will make that baby mine to have and to hold and to cook out of. This beauty will be at the top of my Christmas wish list, and knowing how much my hubby and kids love these stacked lovelies, I don't think I have to worry that it won't be waiting for me under the Christmas tree.

I mean really, what's not to love about great meat, rich cheese, smooth condiments, and a rich variety of topping options all in a bun, or bagle, or even a donut, so you can wrap your hands around it and completely revel in the symphony of flavors and textures.

Our city has many burgers that are locally famous. Jim and I have set a goal to try all of the top 10 rated ones before we move to Swaziland. I've already had the scrumptious pleasure of polishing off about 4 or 5 on the list.

But I'm not waiting to eat out to appreciate a voluptuous indulgence, I'll be making some Friday night and for many nights in the kitchen to come.

After all, I've got a lifetime to love.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Sometimes ministry is really, really...

PicMonkey Collage Betsie


 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. 
Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God.

I John 4:7

Monday, October 15, 2012


Over the last couple of days, a group of young adults --- primarily students from Belmont in Nashville --- have been visiting us at We Will Go. They've led worship and prayer walked. They've gotten to know many of our neighbors and spent time hanging out with our kids. One of them, Mary, has spent extra time with my little Merry.

Last night, Merry decided to draw her a picture. That's one of the ways Merry shows her love for people. When Merry asked God what she should draw, God told her to draw a picture with a feather in it. A large feather image soon was placed right in the middle of the paper over the word God and with a bird flying in the background.

PA150221 Merry and Mary feather picture

When my Merry gave "big" Mary the picture, Mary was surprised to see the image of the feather. She shared with me that God has often spoke to her using feathers so the fact that He prompted a seven year old to draw a feather picture, something I've never seen Merry do before, is pretty incredible.

But isn't that just like our amazing, incredible God?

The same God who used a boy's fishes and loves to feed a multitude, the same God who sent a shepherd boy to kill a giant, and the same God who appointed a big sister to watch over the future leader of the Hebrew people as he floated in a basket, is the same God who can and does speak to my little girl and this time told her to bless a young woman with a feather picture.

Some might say that it was just a lucky, coincidental guess on Merry's part.

Coincidence? I think not!

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. [11]

--- Matthew 18:1-5, 10-11

Sunday, October 14, 2012


On Friday night, Jim had the honor of helping a young man give his life to God. Right on our front porch, he knelt down and asked the Lord to change Him. He was desperate for a different life. He knew he couldn't keep on living as he had been.

Tonight, Jim had the privilege of baptising that young man. For us, it was totally unplanned. For God? Planned since before the foundation of the earth was created.

PA140207 Jim baptizes Martin

God was the one who gave Martin life. God is the one who has been working, often behind the scenes, to bring him to this place. It came as no surprise to God. He's been speaking into Martin's spirit, woo'ing him to lay down his heavy burdens, calling him to a life filled with abundance and peace.

PA140208 square crop

What a joy it was for us all, including the visiting team from Belmont College, to be a part of this amazing time. And we just didn't get the blessing of one baptism, but two!

Mark, one of our long-time neighbors, also took the important step tonight of identifying himself with Christ Jesus through baptism.

PA140204 Baptism Mark and Jim

And what else could we do after these two public professions of faith and new life but celebrate! With prayer and praise --- with our voices, instruments, and even dance --- we thanked God for His goodness and asked Him to keep moving in our hearts and in the hearts of all of those still needing to come to the Father to experience His life changing love.

PA140209 David Gabby worship

Please join us in praying for these two young men. Satan is not happy to lose Mark and Martin. We know they are going to be attacked and tempted. Pray that they will be strengthened and firmly established in the faith. Pray that they will not settle for anything else but going all the way with the Lord. Pray that they will only say "yes" to the Lord and "no" to old addictions, habits, and ways that will try to pull them back to the ways of death and destruction. And pray for the We Will Go family that we will be able to love, support, and disciple them, especially these crucial first days, weeks, and months.

Pray also that more and more people will come to the Lord. So many that we know and love are trapped in addictions, abusive relationships, mental confusion, and spiritual darkness because they aren't walking in a relationship with the perfect Father, our loving God who wants to give them life and life more abundantly than they could ever imagine.

PA140213 Praying

And please pray for the visitors who come to serve at We Will Go on a daily basis. Pray that they will be drawn to the Lord, for the first time if they aren't followers of Jesus, and strengthened in their faith if they know Him. Over and over again, we see people come here and then leave with a fresh vision of how God wants them to walk out their faith.

I've said it before but I'll keep saying it, I am continually blown away by this life that God has called us to. What an incredible blessing to see lives changed and light overtaking the dark in this city.

Hallelujah! God reigns! What an amazing and glorious Lord He is!

3-6 "How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life."

--- Ephesians 1: 3-14 (The Message translation of The Bible)