Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thankful Thursday



This is something that I have been meaning to do for a while.  
I'm not promising that it will be done each week but I am going to try to do some of these regularly.  

I have been reading 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Really, this book is life changing in so many ways.    I am nowhere near journalling 1000 gifts as I am just about to hit 400 but I am committed to keep going. Here are some random things that I am thankful for (I had the kids pick numbers):

#44 - Dark baby boy with his head on my shoulder

#340 - An anniversary card from Zoe

#50 - Messy, long brown haired 8 year old girl in the morning

#118 - Time with the Lord - oh please, change me!

#219 - That six year old boy...

#393 - A visit/chat with Suzie

#350 - Praying for my mission family





Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Purple People

Monday was a public holiday here in Zambia.  The Lusaka Baptist Fellowship Churches held a parade and conference on that day.  We were asked to walk in the parade.  We were pulled up front to walk right behind the band who were right behind the Lusaka Baptist Fellowship banner (seen below).  I guess it's not like we could blend in in the back anyway, so why not put us all up front! :)
Here in Zambia most all the denominations have 'uniforms' or specific colors that they wear to signify to which church they belong.  The Baptist color is purple.


 Below is me, Noria and Suzie.

Before the parade, we all gathered up at the Freedom Statue.  Our missionary friend here with us is John.

The kids are waiting to begin the march with Hannah and our newest missionary, Julie.

Walking along, having fun - Hadassah and Hannah.

More smiles - Hadassah, Julie and Hannah

It was a big parade with lots of churches.

Snaking around the corner, there are even more that can't be seen.

After the parade, we ended up outdoors for the conference.  On Monday, Jeff preached twice with the time interspersed with lots of singing and celebrating.  This year marks 50 years of freedom from British rule.  Even though Independence Day isn't until October, this was a special day to celebrate with Zambian Baptists the freedom that we are given in Christ.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

One thousand, eight hundred and twenty-five...

...DAYS!
What does 1,825 days equal?  5 years!  Today, we have been in Zambia for 5 years.  I am just amazed at what the Lord has done in and through us while we have been here in Zambia.  

This is us as we left Kentucky on June 23, 2009.


On the way to Zambia...

Almost there...


Arrival in Zambia on June 25, 2009!

As I think about what I want to say about these past five years, my mind swirls with all that has happened in our hearts and lives since we have been here.  I have had joys and sorrows.  I have learned much about myself and even more about the Lord.  
I am so grateful that the Lord is FAITHFUL.  He really is and always will be.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3


Friday, May 23, 2014

Fifteen


Yesterday, I celebrated 15 years of marriage with my husband.  It has been an eventful fifteen years.  As a brand new bride, I was immediately thrust into the role of Pastor's Wife as Jeff was already pastoring a church when we first met.  
Nineteen months after our wedding, we were on the mission field in Costa Rica.  Three days after we arrived in Costa Rica, I found out that we were expecting our first child.
Twelve major moves, three children and four countries later, here we are at fifteen years of wedded bliss.
As I have looked through our pictures, I'm realizing that we have a huge gap of pictures before 2005 but here are a few pictures from the (recent) past:

Levi's baby shower in 2007 by our wonderful church family at First Baptist Church - Buna, Texas.

Our brand new family of five.

 
Leaving Texas - packing up everything we had in 3 1/2 crates to ship to Zambia.

One of the prayer card attempts in Virginia - at the end of our eight week mission orientation.

The kids' typical appearance while we were in language study in Mongu, Zambia.  
Notice the difference between the prayer card picture and this one...

Ministering to children in Lukulu, Zambia.

A recent picture taken in our yard in Lusaka.

Fifteen roses (you can't see them all) for fifteen great years with my wonderful husband.  I am so grateful for where the Lord has brought Jeff and I - physically, spiritually and emotionally.  It seems like we have been around the world together and there is more still to come.  
On to our next 15+ adventurous years together....! 


Monday, May 12, 2014

Risky Pursuit


Christ never intended those who walked with him to feel comfortable and safe.
This was meant to be a risk-it-all pursuit.
-Jennie Allen, author of Anything

The word pursuit in the above quote gives the connotation of movement.  Not just ambling along or even fast-walking but flat out running.  The Bible also has some things to say about running.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."

Hebrews 12:1 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..."

I am reading Anything by Jennie Allen with three other women.  The book is about how her husband and she prayed 'anything' to the Lord - they would go anywhere and do anything.  This intrigued us because in so many ways, we had already done our 'anything'.  We all had left our family, friends, church and everything familiar to us to obey the Lord and follow him to the Zambian bush.  Some people might think that we are done.  Through the guidance of this book, our comments to each other and most importantly - the Holy Spirit, we are all learning that there are more anythings out there for each of us.  Anything doesn't stop with one act of obedience.  Anything continues and as I am discovering through The Word - it is a race.  We are told to RUN with perseverance.

So, as I take stock of my spiritual life, I think that I am feeling like I am not running in pursuit of the Lord.  I am exercising - doing my quiet time each morning - but I am just kind of jogging in place.  I want this risk-it-all pursuit.  I want to RUN.  Am I crazy?  Did I just write that?  I am not a runner - just ask my marathon loving husband.  I don't want to just amble along this race that the Lord has placed before me; nor do I just want to fast-walk it but I really do want to pursue the Lord in a brand new way.  I'm thinking that this pursuit won't be easy.  When I think of running, I think of difficulties and pain but as my husband will tell you, as you persevere, it gets easier.... 
Who's with me?  




Sunday, May 11, 2014

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Weary Feet


I have been trying to blog a bit more lately.  I follow several of these Christian women bloggers who are brave and real on their blogs.  As I have contemplated my spiritual temperature lately, I have been a little lonely recently.  In the past year, I have lost three friends, in different ways.  One was from the hard realization of different expectations from our relationship.  One left the mission field and life just took her in a different direction.  The other will always be a friend but I lost her physical presence in my life.  Really, all three have been extremely difficult for me.  

So, why am I writing this?  I'm not sure.  I really have been avoiding this post for a couple of weeks.  It has been rolling around in my heart and mind for a while.  I would start a post and then delete it, not sure really what to say.  

Loss is a part of life.  We all have lost things and people that are valuable to us.  As we have been away from the States for almost five years now, one of the hardest things for me is the lost of relationships.  We loose the every day connection with our families.  When we come back to the States for Stateside Assignments, it is hard just to plop down into their lives again for 5-6 months.  Our children have lost relationships with grandparents, cousins and friends they had five years ago.  Even on the mission field, people seem to always be coming and going in our lives.  It is hard on my heart and sometimes, these 'beautiful feet' are a bit weary.  

I would not change the life we lead because it is what the Lord has called us to do.  We have not doubt that we are right where the Lord wants us.  We take comfort in knowing that He is always in control and that he redeems everything for His glory.  There is nothing better than living a life of obedience, no matter where you are and no matter what the Lord has asked you to do.  At times, we just feel the cost a bit more than other times.  
Below are some quotes from Jim Elliot that really fit in my life right now:

Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.

The will of God is always bigger than we bargain for, but we must believe that whatever it involves; it is good, acceptable and perfect.

Wherever you are, be all there!  Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter, Zambian Style


I have very much enjoyed this Easter season this year.  In the total absence of new spring clothes, bunnies, chocolate, easter baskets, cute pinterest worthy cupcakes/candies, egg hunts and the big traditional family meal - I am enjoying the emphasis that most Zambian churches place on this "holiday".  For Zambians, Easter means church.  Jeff has been preaching an Easter Emphasis at a local church here in Lusaka from Thursday to Sunday.  As we have all had to get ready each and every day for church, some of us have been a bit reluctant to attend church (me included) but as we have experienced the wonderful worship and sermons, it really has shed a new light on Easter for our family.  It has been so wonderful to worship with other Zambians each day with the emphasis on the Cross and Christ's resurrection.  After we have done this, just one short Sunday morning worship service just doesn't seem like enough.  Each worship service has been over 2 hours and tomorrow's service (Resurrection Day) promises to be a very extended time of worship.
But, oh!, how worthy is our Lord to be praised!
Happy Resurrection Day!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Seven!

Levi turned seven years old today.  He started the day off early with his presents.





We went to a movie around 11:45am and then returned to start preparing his choice of food for his birthday supper.  He chose fried chicken, potato salad, green bean bundles and freshly squeezed lemonade.


For dessert, he chose Monster Cookie Dough Cupcakes.


Please pray that this year will be the year that Levi accepts Christ as his Savior.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Just a vapor


This is a true story that our night guard just told us last night.  He was walking to work on the side of the road.  He was walking about 6 feet behind two men who were walking in front of him.  The two men in front of him were talking with each other as they walked down the road.  Suddenly, a mini bus/taxi - like the one pictured above - lost control, brushed our guard's shoulder as it left the road and killed the two men in front of him.  How incredible is that?!  In just a split second, those two men lost their life.  It was almost as if death had brushed by our guard before it hit the other men. 

Oh people - our life is like a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow.  James 4:14 says, "Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."  Friends, make this day count for Jesus.  Don't waste another minute.  Don't waste another opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with that person.  In a second, that opportunity could be gone forever.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Beautiful Broken



Ah, what we didn't know then that we do know now.  This picture was taken just before we left the States in 2009.  We were heading to Zambia to be church planters/evangelists among the Lozi people who lived in the Western Province.  
How the Lord has changed us since that day, and I'm so grateful that He has.  
Just a few things that we have learned:
  • We have learned how to be at the end of ourselves and reach desperately for the Lord and to find Him faithful every. single. time.  We never really fully experienced this privilege while living in the States.  In the States, we had almost no need to desperately cling to the Lord for our everything.  There was always a hospital nearby, always cell phone service, always family to help us, always electricity, always somebody to come fix whatever would have the audacity to actually break or not work, always a church family to surround us, always a place to buy whatever I could ever dream of needing, always a myriad selection of delicious restaurants to dine in, always great roads to drive on, always fuel at the gas stations and so on.  You get the picture.  
  • We have learned to never take for granted our safety and health.  Living in a third world country makes you so very vigilant of your safety and so very grateful for every day that we are healthy.  We have prayed for healing when we were out in the bush, knowing that the Lord was in control and trusting that he would heal us.  We stop to pray when we take long trips, actually we did this in the States too, but here we have come to the realization that so many things can and have happened on these roads - so we have learned to rely upon the Lord's protection as we drive.
  • I keep almost every bottle or container that I have used.  It is hard to get over the fact that this container, used zip lock bag or glass bottle could be used again for something.  I even brought back to Zambia an empty 64 oz. juice bottle from our Stateside Assignment (furlough).  And, yes, I have used it several times as I make some type of drink to take somewhere. :)
  • We have learned that nothing can be done without prayer.  I stand amazed at the incredible freedom that we have to commune with the King of Kings every minute of every day.  Prayer is the true work of every missionary, and really the true work of every single thing.
  •  I have learned how to smash bugs with my bare hands.  I actually could have done without this skill but, believe me, it has been necessary more than once. 
  • We have seen the power of the gospel transform lives.  Please know that the Lord transforms lives wherever you are, no matter what.  It is always the same saving grace and it is always stunning.  It is just astounding to watch someone turn their back on witchcraft and embrace the Lord whole heartedly.  
So, these are just a few thoughts on how our lives have changed and for the best.  This was kind of an impromptu post as I was looking through some of our old pictures.  
The Lord has so much more in store for each of us than we can even imagine.  It doesn't take moving to Africa to find it.  All you have to do is be obedient to what the Lord has called you to do.  It really is that easy.  The road will be difficult as He refines you but oh, it is so worth it.  
Maybe in a few years, you will also be looking back on who you were and be so grateful for what the Lord has done in your life.  It really is a beautiful brokeness.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

A lot of work and a little bit of play...

At the end of March, the whole family drove to Malawi to attend two different meetings.  It took 2 days to get there but it was worth it when we arrived.  This beautiful hotel was situated on Lake Malawi (no swimming in the lake because of bilharzia, hippos and crocodiles) but the kids had a blast in the pool.  I know that some of you might be saying..."It's too bad that you are suffering for Jesus".  So far, this is the first time that we have been able to spend time at a hotel such as this - so once in five years is not so bad....  We really did have meetings most all day with just a few breaks for the kids to play in the pool.



Above is the view from my window.


 The kids had a blast at the pool - the few times that they had time to get in.