Friday, November 30, 2012


Sometimes things are too good to be true...or too good to last.

Case in point, this morning's playtime. As I peeked out my back window this morning, my three youngest were sweetly playing together, though my littlest one was doing a darn good fake cry over some imaginary drama they were acting out. Within moments, though, that changed. A child, whose name is being withheld to protect the not-so-innocent, stole Merry's toy and the imaginary drama turned into a very real, scream-laden drama requiring Mama's judicial intervention.

So sometimes things seem too good, too perfect, to last.

I have a new iPhone and I just found a new app that is promoting itself as enabling me to post to my blog via my phone. Now for this very busy mom of 7 living at a high demand ministry, this sounds like blogger bliss. But is the promise too good to believe? Will I really be able to blog from my bed, my front porch, even a plane?

Well, if you are reading this, then the app was as good as it was described.

If not, you won't ever know but I will and my sweet mobile blogging time will be transformed into a scream-laden blogger drama.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Just as some people said nothing would grow in the rubbish covered empty lots around We Will Go Ministries, so did some people say that there was no hope for the neighbors around We Will Go.

Elysa blessed with a good harvest.

And just as we are experiencing a beautiful harvest in our ministry garden, so are we seeing beautiful new life among our neighbors.  Nothing is too hard for God.  Not even turning bad soil into good.

Green onions grew in good soil...even if it is riddled w/ rocks, glass, and wire.

"The seed that fell on good soil
represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word
and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times
as much as had been planted!”

Matthew 13:23

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I adore Christmas. I love the gift giving and the gift getting. I love the special church services and the traditional foods. I love the glitzy decorations and the sweet homemade ornaments. I love the books I read to the kids only at this time of year and the seasonal clothes and jewelry. I especially love that this is one time of year where the amazing message of Jesus is proclaimed everywhere you turn, even in some pretty incongruous places.

Around the MacHome, we hold off on the Christmas decorations, music, etc. til after Thanksgiving. We want to make sure we focus on that special time of the year before we hop head long into the next. But when Thanksgiving is past and the ban on carols is lifted, you'll hear me playing the old and new seasonal songs every chance I get.

This year, I've discovered a new favorite by Francesca Batisteli. I love that it includes so many of the elements that make up the merriment of Christmas for many of us, myself included, but still let's it be known that Christmas is really about Jesus and what He did for us when He came to this world.

So enjoy those chocolate balls and handcut paper snowflakes, sing those carols loudly and kiss your mister under the mistletoe with romantic fervor, but don't forget that the whole reason we can laugh and love and celebrate is because HE came to this world and brought true life and light.

Now let's get this party started!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012


PA060108 Edited We Will Go inner city Jackson shack

"We pray for the bifocals of faith -- that see the despair and the need of the hour but also see, further on, the patience of our God working out His plan in the world He has made."

Peter Marshall, U.S. Senate Chaplain 1947-49

Monday, November 26, 2012


Our son Patrick is going to Swaziland this summer with Adventures in Missions? He will be part of an Ambassador team, the same kind of team his sister Anna went to Swaziland with when she was fifteen. That was a heart changing, life altering summer for her. When Betsie and David went on their Ambassador trips, they had the same effect. God used them in amazingly powerful ways. We expect no less for Patrick.

African necklace

For one month, he'll be living with a team of teenagers and their leaders as they minister at carepoints and in Swazi churches. They will teach others about the love of God while experiencing it on a deeper level for themselves.

But Patrick can't get there on his own. He needs lots of prayer support and he needs financial help. The trip will cost over $4,000 . We'll be holding fund raisers and sending out support letters. We'll also be selling items to raise the needed money.

The first thing we are selling would make a great Christmas gift for the African lover in your life, or perhaps a gift to yourself.

This short, black beaded necklace has a white African-shaped pendant which sits right on the collar bone. It was actually handcrafted in Mozambique. Because of the simplicity of the style, it would be appropriate for a male or female.

The necklace is selling for $10. If you are local, that's it, just $10 bucks. If I need to mail it to you, I will need to charge $1 for shipping.

Just leave me a comment if you're interested and we'll work out the payment details. If someone snaps it up before you get the chance, don't worry, I'll be offering lots of other fabulous items including African earrings and bracelets, missions themed paintings, and t-shirts.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.


For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Psalm 95: 1-7

Saturday, November 24, 2012


We just got back from spending time with my family on the Gulf Coast and I'm scaring myself! For the third trip in a row this month, I've unpacked my suitcase the very night I've arrived home.

I'm scaring myself!  For the third trip in a row, in less than a month, I've unpacked my suitcase the very night I've arrived home. What alien has taken control of me???? Am I becoming just "The Host"??? #alienabduction #scary #thehost

What alien has taken control of me? 

Am I becoming just "The Host"???

Friday, November 23, 2012


Yesterday was devoted to giving thanks to the Lord for all His many blessings.  They blessings didn't stop yesterday and neither did my thankful heart.

Girls' Day Out

Today, I was able to spend time with my Coast family, including special time with the "big" girls. Anna, Betsie, my mom, my sister-in-law, and I, spent time in beautiful and artsy Ocean Springs. The surroundings were lovely, the food at Phoenecia Gourmet Cuisine was sublime, and the company was both of those.

Love my girls, love my life, love my God.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours!
I pray that you've been reminded afresh today of God's amazing love and faithfulness.


1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

4 to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

Psalm 136, NIV

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


On this Thanksgiving Eve, our family is taking the time to count just some of the many blessings God has bestowed on us in 2012.

Thanksgiving card from Grandmommy

Here are our top ten lists:

Anna, 19 --- trip to East Africa, the friends she made on that trip and the friendships that were strengthened, her apartment, a great school year, her family and their support of her since she moved to New Orleans, getting to go white water rafting on the Nile and bungee jumping in Uganda as well as zip-lining in Swaziland, her best friends and how they are growing in God and bringing her along on their journeys, Delta Sky Miles so she could fly to Chicago on her birthday, getting to work back stage at a Switchfoot show, and the family trip to Paris and Africa.

Patrick, 13 --- Legos, his room, grandparents, freedom, his relationship with God, family, trips to different places, technology, macaroni and cheese, the month of December

Merry, 7 --- her dad, God, horses, Anna, Betsie, Faith House [where we live], her bed, ballet, Ashley here at We Will Go, and food.

Betsie, 17 ---her best friend Candace, lessons in faith, the worship team, her youth pastor, road-trips with the family, her tickets to the upcoming Passion conference, her editor a.k.a. Grandmommy, her MUW scholarship, her Daddy's grace, her balcony on her "hood house".

Travis, 9 --- God, Mom and Dad, siblings, grandparents, relatives, video games, friends, food, water, the Bible.

Laura, 11 --- books and libraries, family, friends, her own room, animals (especially cats), Paris, board games, GA's, God, crayons.

David, 15 --- God's love for him, family, friends, his guitar, the Amazon, buffalo wings, pizza, Batman, Star Wars,  and Lord of the Rings

Jim ---his wife (that's me!), his children, the life God has given him to live, his dad, Jesus saving him, coffee, rooibos tea, good books, time to spend with family, his pastor who is a spiritual father to him

Elysa (that's me!) --- my hunky hubby, all seven of my beautiful children plus a few extra kids who seem like part of my brood, family and friends who support our call to missions, our sponsored girls in Swaziland, our new life here at We Will Go Ministries, dark chocolate, the many missionaries out there serving around the world, Adventures in Missions and how God has used it to impact the lives of my older kids, popcorn, and God's amazing grace.

He truly loves us and blesses us more than we could ever deserve even if we lived a thousand times over.

Thank You, thank You, thank You, Lord, and Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Today, we had another first here at our new home, The Faith House at We Will Go Ministries. Ever since Jim and I got married over twenty years ago, homemade biscuits have been part of our food tradition. My mother-in-law taught me how to make them and I've, in turn, taught my oldest girls how to make them. Now, I've made them here in inner-city Jackson.

First biscuits made in our new home.

Here at We Will Go, we're definitely all about being family, commemorating milestones, and celebrating holidays together. We especially love the holidays that are centered on God and His goodness.

Thanksgiving is right up there in the top for holidays focused on just that.

On Sunday, Crossgates Baptist Church folks brought a turkey and dressing dinner for us to serve after our worship service. Tonight, the on-base missionaries plus a few others in our ministry family had a special Thanksgiving meal. Thursday, we'll be having another one for our extended We Will Go family (many of whom are homeless folks or neighbors who don't have a biological family to share the day with), and after that lunch, our family will be celebrating with my mom and my brother's family.

Four Thanksgiving meals.

Yep, four.

I could really get used to this.

I also love the many reminders to stop and take time to say thanks to the Lord for His goodness and blessings.  Too often, I let myself get so busy or stressed or just wrapped up in shallow pursuits that I forget to dwell on how incredible God is -- that His mercy endures forever and that He, because of His powerful awesomeness, is able to take even the bad things in this life and use them for my good and His glory.   Some of His blessings are obvious --- a faithful husband, healthy children, plenty to eat --- and others can sometimes only be best appreciated in hind sight.

But whether they are easy circumstances to praise Him in or whether they are challenges that require us to choose to worship Him, because He is our perfect and loving God, He always deserves our trusting thankfulness.

And today, I am thankful that He has called our little, big family to live on this corner of Jackson and share our lives and love with those around us.  Sometimes, that looks like biscuits being baked in a former crack-house kitchen.

Monday, November 19, 2012


My daughter Betsie's latest writing on Flesh Made Flesh:

My heart is slamming against the inside of my chest, thwamp thwamp thwamp thwamp. It is pulsating so quickly that as it pumps my blood, it pumps tremors that course into my stomach and set it aflutter. I am simultaneously crippled with fear, and wild with excitement. Today, I will commit to the greatest decision I have ever made or ever will make during my lifetime. Today is one of those defining moments, one of those crossroads moments. Today, I leave behind the young girl I was and begin the long journey to womanhood. It is a serious occasion, but it is also a joyous celebration. Today, I will take my independence and everything it entails, and fold it up like an old sweater that is no longer appropriate for the season, place it in chest where it will be safe, and take on the new, stunning dress of life shared with someone else.

Wedding groom and bride

I am scared, but I will not allow my fear to hold me back from this. From saying yes.

“We are gathered here to unite these two hearts in the bonds of holy matrimony which is an honorable estate. Into this, these two now come to be joined. Betsie MacLellan, do you have this man as your lawful wedded partner, to live together in the estate of matrimony? Will you love him, honor him, and keep him in sickness and in health; forsaking all others, be true to him as long as you shall live?”

“I do,” my voice shakes as I answer, but I answer.

“Do you have this woman as your lawful wedded partner, to live together in the estate of matrimony? Will you love her, honor her, comfort her, and keep her in sickness and in health; forsaking all others, be true to her as long as you both shall live?”

“I do.” His voice is strong and true and his eyes full of love as he answers.

Two perfectly round gold bands are revealed. Our wedding rings. “Behold the symbol of wedlock. The perfect circle of love, the unbroken union of these souls united here today. May you both remain faithful to this symbol of true love. Please join hands and repeat after me: I, Betsie MacLellan–”

“I, Betsie MacLellan,”

“–take this man–”

“Take this man,”

“–as my wedded partner–”

“As my wedded partner,”

“–to have and to hold from this day forward–”

“To have and to hold from this day forward,”

“–for better or for worse–”

“For better or for worse,”

“–for richer or for poorer–”

“For richer or for poorer,”

“–in sickness and in health–”

“In sickness and in health,”

“–to love and to cherish–”

“To love and to cherish,”

“–till death do us part.”

“Till death do us part.”

“Now do you take Betsie MacLellan as my wedded partner–”

“I take Betsie MacLellan as my wedded partner,” His eyes twinkle as he repeats all of his vows. He chose me as his own long before I ever knew him; this day is special to him because it symbolizes my admittance of something that he knew all along: that I am his and he is mine.

“For as much as this woman and this man have consented together in wedlock, and have witnessed the same before this company of friends and family, and have given and pledged their promises to each other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving a ring, and by joining hands. By the authority vested in me, I pronounce this couple to be united in marriage.”

And just like that, my life is forever changed.

My name is Betsie MacLellan. I am 17 years old and a senior in high school. I have been single for over two years, and yet, there is a wedding band on my ring finger. In Facebook speech, “It’s complicated.”

I have walked the aisle, but only when it was necessary to reach my seat in the sanctuary or I am going to the altar for prayer. I have also worn a white dress in the church, but it was only a sundress and a huge fashion mistake. So why am I sporting a wedding band? I’ll tell you: On my 13th birthday, my father gave me a purity ring that had the inscription “True Love Waits” wrapped around its silver band. Before he slipped it onto my my finger, he asked that as long as I wore this ring, if I would commit to stay physically pure and save myself for marriage. At 13, I flipped between dreaming of marrying Orlando Bloom, and dreaming of joining a convent, so promising to remain physically pure until marriage wasn’t hard for me. Then. Two years passed, and I kept the promise I had made my dad at 13. However, as I discarded my dreams of convent life, and my path continued to fail to cross Mr. Bloom’s, it got harder. And harder. And harder. I began to realize that a mere commitment to stay physically pure was not enough when it was so easy to be mentally and emotionally impure. I was, too, on many occasions during those couple of years. I was saving my body, but was I saving my heart?

Fast forward almost two years. I am now nearly 15 and in Romania for one month on a summer mission trip. On one particular day, my team leaders decided that we should begin the day with some worship. So all nine of us met in the living room of the house we were staying in and began to sing as one of our leaders strummed a tune on his guitar. I don’t know how much time we passed like that–twenty minutes? Half an hour? Two hours? I sat on the floor, legs crossed, back against the wall the entire time. I sang the songs right along with my teammates, but in my heart and mind, very different words were making themselves heard. Harmless words collided with each other and formed frightening questions. Questions I had never honestly asked myself before. Questions like, “Am I withholding something from the Lord? What am I withholding from the Lord?”

His answer sucked the breath right out of my lungs. It’s enormity was hard to swallow, and it knotted and twisted and squeezed my insides. However long worship lasted–twenty minutes, half an hour, two hours–it wasn’t long enough for me and as my teammates huddled to talk and pulled out the playing cards, I stole away to an empty room on the second floor of the house so that I could think. The room held two beds, a table in between them, and a window overlooking the village. As I sat on the bed closest to the door and stared out the window, I gave back to the Lord what He had asked of me. I realized that it hadn’t been His for a very long time. I gave Him my heart.

For me, after that day in Romania, it wasn’t enough that I just save my body for marriage, I wanted to give my heart to God then. If you are a Christian, then you are also the bride of Christ. Not someday. Not when you’re 22 and graduated from college. Not when you’re 25 and financially stable. Now. Today. And it really doesn’t matter if you’re as young as 15 or as old as 50. As I grasped this concept, and glimpsed a portion of the love Jesus had for me, something began to happen deep inside of me. Something was awoken after sleeping for over 14 long years, and I experienced feelings I had never felt before. They were new and exciting and they changed everything. The grass looked greener, the sky was bluer and the birds seemed to sing more. All the fairytale movies I had seen and books I had read gave a unanimous diagnosis: I was in love.

For my 15th birthday that year, my parents purchased another ring for me. Except, this one was gold, thinner, without an inscription, and went on my ring finger on my left hand. It also did not stand for a commitment to remain pure, but rather, it was a symbol of my love for Christ and visible proof that I was His bride. Two years have passed, and the ring remains on the same finger the Walmart jewelry counter clerk first slipped it onto.

What does all this mean, though? Being the bride of Christ and wearing wedding bands even though your Facebook status claims that you’re single? Well, I personally think it means that when Christ calls you His bride, it means that you’re His bride. Exhibit a. Isaiah 54:5-6 “‘Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—a wife who married young, only to be rejected,’ says your God.”

Exhibit b. 2 Corinthians 11:2 “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”

Finally, exhibit c. Revelation 19:7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”

Even though you may never have a marriage license with the Lord’s signature on it, if you are a born-again Christian, then you are the bride of Christ. How seriously do you take that? No, I never actually walked the aisle and stood side-by-side with Jesus as a priest bound us in holy matrimony. But just as I would vow to forsake all others so as to be true to an earthly husband, so I have vowed to God; and just as I would commit before an assembly of witnesses to have and to hold a spouse from that day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, as long as we both would live, so have I committed to the Lord.

Therefore, when someone I know goes nearly blind and ends up in the ICU with a brain tumor, I will still choose to stay faithful to the Lord and believe in His goodness even though it is hard to see it through all the sickness. When I hit a deer on my way home and end up with $2300 in vehicle damages and I’m only a high school kid who works a minimum wage job, I will choose to stay faithful to the Lord and believe in His providence even though it is hard to see it through all the phone and truck bills. When days come that I don’t feel in love, I will still choose to stay faithful to the Lord and choose to love Him and believe in His never ending love for me even though I can’t see it at the moment.

I may be young, but I have chosen. I am Christ’s, and He is mine. (Song of Solomon 6:3) With joy I will embrace my role as the bride of Christ, and I will forsake all others and try to be true to Him for as long as I shall live.

Will you?

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Stating on here that a busy schedule has hindered daily posts or the typical more in-depth posts is becoming a refrain I use all too often here at Graceland, but that just seems to be the season I'm in. I don't mean to complain. I love my life here at We Will Go. It is just a reality that living here and ministering is very intense and when you add to that other factors, such as spending time in New Orleans with our first chick to fly the nest and preparations for moving to Swaziland, life is just a bit more crazy than it already was.

Blessed to be at the church that is the headquarters for ZEMA, the missions organization we are applying with to serve thru in Swaziland.
Jim and I at Christ Community Church where the ZEMA headquarters are located
 and where ZEMA was founded.

Tonight I am very, very tired and my warm, cozy bed is beckoning, but I wanted to give a quick update. Jim and I flew out of Jackson about 6:30 Friday morning. We got to Chicago at lunch. Did a bit of exploring and then attended the Zion Evangelical Ministries of Africa banquet that night. This is the organization we are applying with to serve in Swaziland.

Saturday morning was more touristy exploring then we met with the ZEMA director and his wife before flying home. We arrived here really late last night, I actually unpacked my suitcase, and I fell asleep past 1:00 this morning.

Then it was up for church at Restoration back in Florence, afternoon worship and service here at We Will Go, the team meeting til nearly nine, and then getting the kiddos to bed.

As I said, I'm really tired but very thankful that tomorrow morning is our family's designated "day of rest". This is one missionary mama that is definitely giving thanks that I'll be able to sleep in and do some reading. I need a recovery from all the good happenings.

Hope you're life is also full of good things and that some of that good includes rest.

God surely knew what He was doing when He created sleep and sabbaths.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Dark and early Friday morning, Jim and I will be leaving for Chicago. The We Will Go missionary family will be taking care of our kids so we can go up north for a Zion Evangelical Ministries of Africa banquet. This is the organization we are applying to go to Swaziland with. This will be our first time to meet the Stateside ZEMA folks.

P1140451 Edited

On the past two trips to Swaziland, we've been blessed to spend time with ZEMA missionaries and on our last trip, we were able to attend a Zionist church.

Please pray for us as we travel, for our kids back home, as we meet the ZEMA folks, and as we continue to listen to the Lord and hear His direction for our future life in Swaziland.

Thanks, and as the Swazis say, sala kahle (stay well)!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


My heart is overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving tonight. Where do I even begin to start enumerating all the blessings? I don't have the time nor the space to list all the ways God has gifted my life so I'll settle for listing just a sprinkling of them tonight.

Turkey Lovin'

This Thursday before Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for:

*A houseful of kids that call me Mom

*A husband who works hard to love and support us

*The neighbors that God has brought into my life here at We Will Go and the chance to love on them and minister to them like at tonight's Bible study

*My son Patrick's willingness to go to Swaziland this summer and serve on an AIM team

*The homeless man who wouldn't even hold a conversation with me when I saw him at the library on Tuesday but then came with a beaming smile tonight and told me when he saw me what scripture passage I'd be talking about tonight, proof that he did listen to me even if he didn't verbally communicate

*A Heavenly Father who wants to use little ole, imperfect me to take His light and love into some very dark places

God is so good to me. So very, very good.  His love is extravagant and knows no bounds.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


A good friend knows what will make your day, even when it is something seemingly little.

I love my Troubadour Sister and I love my Miffy.

My sweet friend Audra messaged me today that she wanted to drop by our house on her way through town. I'm all for spontaneous and all for seeing old friends, especially ones as fun and smart and authentic as Audra, so I of course told her to come on! I was expecting to enjoy our quick visit, I was not expecting my fellow MUW alum and Troubadour sister to bring me a gift.

But she did. She brought me Miffy because she remembered that when we spent time at the Amsterdam airport this past January, I fell in love with this little blue garbed bunny. And so, when she flew from Europe a bit ago, she picked up a Miffy key chain for me.

Don't ask me why I love this little bunny so much. I don't know. Maybe it is the way she wears blue. I adore blue. Maybe it is her classic cuteness. Maybe it is how she has so much personality even though she's just a simple little white rabbit.

I know not all the reasons. I just do.

And now I'm not just enjoying looking at her and her tiny fabulous self, I've become obsessed with taking photos of her all over the place. As though I needed another reason to take a million photos.

Look ----

Miffy all keyed up.(
Miffy all keyed up.

Miffy feels the heat.
All fired up with Miffy

Switched on Miffy
Switched on Miffy

Miffy goes bananas.
Miffy goes bananas

Spicy Miffy
Spicy Miffy

So though Miffy is very diminutive in appearance, she's actually a big gift. Because she represents someone caring enough about me to not only remember how much I liked Miffy, but took the time to buy her and bring her to me here in the 'hood.

Give thanks for Miffy

And having a friend like that is really pretty undiminutive.  In fact, it is actually a pretty big deal and something I am very thankful for.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I meant this post to be longer. I was going to give lots of details and include copious amounts of photos related to my recent trip to New Orleans. Actually, I was going to do this yesterday, but we had a power outage yesterday and it lasted for several hours, past bedtime even. And tonight? Tonight I'm feeling poorly and about to go to bed, but before I do, I'll share a trio of quick images.

Travis is impressed.

This is Travis. He's my adorable nine year old. I think I classified him as seven in my Instagram captions earlier. Don't tell him. When you're nine, you don't want to be called seven.

Anyway, he's adorable and quite the conversationalist. We had a lunch date today and there was never a lull in the dialogue.

Now that we're living downtown, we have the chance to eat out a lot more and there are many fabulous options within walking distance. I've told the kids that I'll take one of them to eat out each month. They had a drawing, as siblings in big families are apt to do, and Travis won the first lunch date. He chose, with a little maneuvering on my behalf, the amazing, Southern-cooking, truly scrumptious, all-you-can-eat buffet that is just down the street from our house.

All done! Travis says the bread pudding was his favorite.

As you can see from his smiles (mine, too), he was not disappointed with his choice. He especially loved the fact that I only had two bites of my dessert, bread pudding, and let him eat the rest along with his peach cobbler.

Travis and Elysa at Two Sisters

Two Sisters' Kitchen is "down home" food as good as it gets and not be made in a "down home" kitchen. To be honest, it is actually better than most real "down home" kitchen cooking. I don't know anyone else but Two Sisters who can cook a chicken fried steak that is so tender it can be cut with the barest pressure from a fork. And delicious? Oh yeah. It is worth the visit just for the chicken fried steak and gravy.

But you won't want to miss the fried okra and bread pudding and super light rolls and fried okra and tomato gravy and...well, just about everything else!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


NOT sleeping in late, bigging up my hair, getting dressed for the chilly trip home, chatting with Anna, boiled peanuts and blackberries for breakfast, packing up way too much stuff.

Packing to go home.

Elements of my last day in New Orleans.

Ones to come? Hefting the too-heavy luggage down Anna's stairs, Holy Cross College's Fall Festival, making a Swaziland t-shirt, hugs goodbye, last minute motherly reminders, and getting on a train northern bound.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Yesterday, I took the train they call The City of New Orleans and rode it down to see my oldest baby. I'll be spending a few days enjoying her, the great food, the fun shopping, seeing old friends, and just loving this amazing life God has blessed me with.

Happy day after Anna's birthday!
Supper at Cleopatra's

Because of this get-away, I will not be online much nor will I be blogging every day as is my habit.

But, I will be back home in a few days and will have lots of things to talk about. In the meantime, love deeply, serve recklessly, pray continually, and count your many blessings.

Monday, November 05, 2012


Happy Birthday to Anna aka Punkie aka Indie aka Nahna (as Betsie used to say before she could talk properly).

Anna and two boys edited

I'm not with you in person today, as you're flying home from a few days of visiting mission-trip friends in Chicago, but I'm definitely with you in my thoughts. I went to sleep thinking about you and I woke up thinking about you.

You have grown up in amazing ways.

You are smart, beautiful, compassionate, Christ-seeking, strong, eloquent, loyal, trust worthy, hard working, independent, capable, fierce, and confident. In fact, it is a good thing you're not telepathic, too, because if you were, and you could hear how often I brag on you, the confidence would be over the top and make you truly insufferable. As it is now, you are just totally secure in who God made you to be and from that place of knowing who you are in Christ, you are willing to do anything He calls you to do.

That is pretty amazing.

I am so proud of you.

And I love you a whole heck of a lot, too.

See you tomorrow in New Orleans for a crazy-good belated birthday celebration!

Sunday, November 04, 2012


A lot has brought smiles to my face and my heart today including listening to my kids and the other We Will Go teens lead worship, getting a picture of Anna on my phone sent from Chicago where she's visiting friends this weekend, eating yummy made-by-me burgers for lunch, and getting to know the volunteers from Grace Baptist who came to help us serve our evening meal to our neighbors this evening.

But what had me smiling the most, through and through? This little princess.

PicMonkey Collage J and Elysa

She arrived this morning at our house and spent the time before we left for church prancing and spinning and posing in her fit-for-royalty dress. And then at church, after the worship time, she curled up in my lap and slept. Yes, my bottom was hurting and my legs were in pain after the first thirty minutes or so, but there was no way I was going to wake her up and make her get up. Some sweet blessings are just worth the discomfort and this little We Will Go friend is one of the sweetest ones God has sent my way since moving us to Jackson.

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

So what good thing has had you smiling on this Sunday?

Saturday, November 03, 2012


Let us not become weary in doing good...

Picking fresh collards from put of the community garden.  The kids will be thrilled.

...for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

---Galatians 6:9

God said it, so we can trust it to be true!

Friday, November 02, 2012


Jim has really been feeling lately drawn to a certain part of our new neighborhood, Church Street. For the second time in less than a week, we've spent time walking up and down that street, praying over it, talking to folks we encounter, singing to the Lord, and listening to Him, too.

Praying for the church of Jackson to really be the true church.  Forgive us, Lord.

This area, nestled in the historic Farish District, used to be a beautiful, bustling neighborhood where children safely played, grandparents worked in their gardens, women walked to the stores, and men worked hard to support their families. Over the last few decades, the neighborhood has become pock marked with drugs, drunkeness, crime, abandoned houses, failed businesses, prostitution, and extreme poverty. There are still many people who do care for their homes, work hard, and follow the law, people like the lady who stopped earlier this week when we were walking to ask if we needed help. Sadly, the sin and darkness that has reigned here for so long have scared away many and even some of the churches.

Bringing the light of Jesus to Church and Farish Streets.

But bit by bit, that's changing. Light is pushing back the darkness. Love is replacing hate. Folks are seeing the beauty again, even in unexpected places like this old car that Merry thought was so "cool".

While prayer walking on Church Street, Merry spotted this "cool" car.

Or this "art" painted on the side of a building on Farish Street that caught Merry's attention.

Graffiti art on Farish.  You should have heard Merry praying over this building.

You should have heard Merry praying over this building. She prayed that people would come and lay hands on it and as they did that they would pray that lives and the building would be turned to God.

Merry prayed that people will come and lay hands on this building and pray that lives and the building would be turned to God.

And I join her in that prayer. I pray that God's people would turn their hearts to those places in desperate need of God's truth, love, and power and be willing to go and do just as Merry said, lay hands not just on this building but on people themselves. That God's people would pray for people to be healed and delivered. That God's people would get to know the folks who live here, folks like this sweet grandma who is a regular at We Will Go and was just out getting her daily exercise. When you know them, you can then love them. Some of them are easy to love, like her. It is a joy to just get to share with her and hear her stories. It is a blessing to know that by transforming this neighborhood through the power of Jesus, that we're helping give her a better place to live, a safer, friendlier, more peaceful place.

Me and sweet Aldora.  She was an unexpected blessing.

And then there are others that are more challenging to love but need it just as badly, if not more so. Like the three guys who came and asked for snack bags tonight. The family was having our weekly movie and pizza night when there was a rap at the door. Jim got up to answer it and a couple of minutes later he called to us to turn off the movie and come to the door. There were two racoons outside in front of our house. Raccoons! In front of our downtown house! We didn't even ever see raccoons in our house out in the country!

Two raccoons climbed out of the rain gutters in front of our house.  Who says we don't live in the country anymore?

After the excitement of the raccoons passed, Jim gave the men their snack bags, prayed for them, and he came back in. A few minutes later, we got a text from another missionary saying she'd just given snack bags to the same three men not realizing Jim already had because we forgot to send out our text with that information. They are supposed to only get one snack bag a week and they know this, hence the fact that they weren't holding bags in their hands when they came to either of our doors.

We couldn't help but laugh that maybe that's why the raccoons were out, to snag the snack bags the men had hidden somewhere, probably in the bushes beside our house.

So yeah, some neighbors are more challenging than others. Some will cuss you and lie to you and steal from you. Some hate you and yell at you and only use you for the stuff.

But that's why we're here.

The perks are great. I love getting to walk the girls to ballet and being close to stores and places to eat. I am so thankful for the amazing missionaries that we get to meet and the beautiful community of believers here at We Will Go. The kids love having their own rooms in this rambling old house and I enjoy having Jim only two blocks away at his office during the day. And so many of our neighbors are absolute sweethearts, like the grandma we saw this evening.

But we didn't sell our farm, get rid of all our animals, and move to inner-city Jackson for the perks and the easy, already-know-Jesus folks. Yes, we are here to serve them and support them, but ultimately we are here because Jesus told us to come and help rescue the perishing. He told us to come and lay it all down for the sake of His call and the lost souls. He has shown us that Jackson is on fire and folks are perishing in the flames of sin. They are being destroyed by hatred and addiction and unforgiveness and violence.

This is a place that Jesus wants us to harvest for His kingdom. And we are seeing fruit already. But in the meantime, there are still a lot of stones that must be removed, weeds that have to be pulled out, seeds that must be planted, and baby plants that need lots of watering.  Streets like Church Street are just one of the fields He is preparing for harvest.

There's no question about that.

The question is, who will say "yes" to His call for workers? Who will be willing to go, till, plant, nourish, and ultimately harvest?

We only have one year here til we move to Africa, but I can quite honestly say that I am absolutely blessed and honored to be among those He has called to live, love, and walk these streets.

And I'd be pleased beyond measure to have you come alongside us, even if it isn't moving here but only coming once or twice a week or coming for a week or two and staying on base as part of a short-term mission trip. I can pretty much guarantee you won't regret it. It is amazing how much He blesses His laborers. His wages are definitely the best around.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


What am I thankful for this Thursday?

A lovin' husband who spoils me rotten by taking me on great dates to fabulous restaurants. This time? Babalu in the Fondren area of Jackson.

Banality?  Yes, I do!

The guacamole made right at the table was generous portioned and great tasting.

Happy to be here!

The tacos were great.

A trio of tasty tacos.

The burger was great. Really, really, really great.

This foodie is really happy!

The chocolate truffles sitting on a bed of slightly sweet cream were great.

Amazing chocolate truffles.

And the service and hipster atmosphere was great.

Gotta love a place that plays. I LOVE LUCY the whole time.

Basically, everything was great, including my sweetheart.

So yeah, I'm very, very thankful this Thursday, very in love, and very full. I made myself exercise when I got home but this spoiled woman now needs to sleep so I'll be ready to face another day with smiles, not with an emotional meltdown like poor Lucy!

And by the way, who else wants to Babalu with me?