Edisto 2016

Several weeks ago our family took some time off and went to the beach.  It was a nice, relaxing time.  None of my family likes the beach as much as I do, so that was sad, but at least I had time alone on the beach.:)

Things are kind of busy around here, so there won’t be much commentary on the pics.

Molly brought my Nikon camera and took some of her owns shots.  Here they are:

We enjoyed the time in the sun!  And with my parents for a couple of those days.  If you’re interested in a very laid back, non-crowded beach, Edisto is the place for you.

Africa: Part IV

This post should cover the last part of our trip.  The part where Mack was eating dinner and said, “Oh my!  Have I died and gone to heaven?”  The food during most of our stay wasn’t his favorite and a few days he survived on apple sauce given to him by one of our fellow-sojourners.  And french fries.  There seemed to be potatoes at every meal.  But of course, he survived just fine!  It made him that much more appreciative of the resort meals.

We stayed at Kichwa Timbo.  It was super-nice!  The bed was so plush and clean.  The showers were hot!  They had a blowdryer in the room!  They delivered coffee and cookies to your room when you told them to in the morning.  Ah-maz-ing.  I enjoyed the ride into the safari resort.  I enjoyed an evening drive out to see animals, and I also very much enjoyed opting out of the morning safari drive.  The room was just too good to leave!  No lion or tiger or elephant could have lured me out.  Besides, I had a front row seat to a monkey at my room and a warthog laying in the sun at breakfast.  That was enough adventure for me.

Here are some of the pictures from Josh’s phone. He and the kids went to the border of Kenya and Tanzania on the morning I stayed in. They saw the wildebeest migration. Pretty cool!

So obviously, it is clear why Mack might have thought he had gone to heaven at this place! It was nice.  Really nice.  An unexpected way to end an unforgettable trip.   Until next time, Africa!

Africa: Part III

The next morning we took a few small plane rides to leave Kenya and enter Uganda. Mack enjoyed this experience the most out of all of us.  I had never ridden in a 9 passenger plane before; it was neat to see the land below the whole time we flew.  We took off and landed in the most interesting places.  This first take-off couldn’t happen until Pastor Simon got the donkeys to move off the runway.

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At one of the airports we ate pizza–a welcome change to our diet of potatoes, rice and chicken.  When we landed in Uganda, we met some people on the air strip that lived nearby.  Some of the kids in the group had never met a white person.  It was such a blessing to give away the dolls and blankets Molly and I had made.  I also threw a pair of pants in my bag of things to give away because Mack had put them on that morning and they were too little for him.  The Mama of the boy that I gave them to hugged me and said, “Mama!!!”  It was a sweet little bond between Mamas.  We all want good things for our kids.  They have such an appreciation for the necessities.  It was a humbling exchange, and I am so glad I got to meet these people.

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In Uganda we stayed at The Jesse Hotel.  We met back up with Pastor Soston and his wife, Veronica.  They are refugees from Sudan and have quite the community in Uganda.  I was prepared for chaos at my first visit to a refugee camp, but these people were amazingly organized.  They seem to work together well and live with grateful hearts despite such a very hard existence.

Molly played around with making boomerang videos with the kids, which they seemed to think was so funny.

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We rode a good ways to get to the camp and passed by many small communities.  There were water pumps along the way.  Small kids were filling water jugs to carry back to their home. We also saw Samaritan’s Purse World Food Distribution Center, which was amazing.IMG_6684IMG_6687IMG_6849IMG_6692IMG_6693IMG_6698IMG_6699IMG_6701IMG_6704IMG_6714IMG_6724IMG_6728IMG_6730IMG_6731IMG_6734

They welcomed us with dancing and singing!  Africans know how to celebrate people.

I will not be the same after the time I spent with them.  And I don’t know why, but the Lord has made a special place in my heart for Veronica.  I will pray for her as she leads alongside her husband.  I hope you will pray for her, too.IMG_6848IMG_6743IMG_6747

The picture above shows their bathrooms.

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Above is Pastor Soston telling us about the food they are growing!  He was so proud of what they are doing and very grateful for any help that With Open Eyes has given along the way.

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This is their irrigation system that was put in with the help of some people from With Open Eyes.  It reminded me of a statement I learned in a Beth Moore bible study many years ago: “Sow the Word of God into the reality of your circumstances.”  I believe the Lord has helped me to do just that over the past five years or so, and He has given much fruit!  Many times the ground was hard and was made soft by tears and hard work.  Other times the Lord gave energy and vitality so that the work of day to day life didn’t seem burdensome at all and the Word of God made me glad. No matter what the circumstances of life, we must sow His Word into the reality of where we are and watch Him bring the fruit!  It’s a work only He can do, but there is a part for us to play! Sow the Word!IMG_6759IMG_6760

With Open Eyes brought shoes and soccer balls and beach balls and other games for the kids.  They also brought soccer jerseys and shorts, and we got to watch them play a game of soccer.IMG_6765

I had the honor of praying for these ladies in my prayer group.  Many of them don’t have their husbands with them and life is difficult. They worry about providing for their children.  They need money to send them to school.  Pray for these ladies to know the peace of God and the provision of God.IMG_6767IMG_6772IMG_6773

We couldn’t believe it, but these precious people had cooked for us!  I was so humbled that they would take from what they could have eaten and share it with us. We were careful with what we chose to eat, but we were thankful and amazed that they would share with us.IMG_6779IMG_6847IMG_6781IMG_6785IMG_6786IMG_6788IMG_6789IMG_6794

We did a little skit about The Good Samaritan.  Mack was the poor guy who got beat up and left for dead.  I passed him by.  Molly passed him by.  Ruby helped him, and Josh Trammell was the donkey he rode on. IMG_6831IMG_6832IMG_6834

We left the refugee camp with full hearts and went back to clean up and eat dinner.  We would leave the next morning for Masai Mara, a safari hotel where we stayed one night.  Josh has most of those pictures on his phone, but I will add them to Part IV soon.  Thanks for taking the time to look at our pictures and read my little commentary.  I wish each of you could have come with us!  An unforgettable trip, that is for sure!

Africa: Part II

We rode in buses from Brackenhurst to get to Namanga. So much to see as we drove down the streets.

We arrived at our hotel and unloaded all of our stuff.

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This picture above shows a happy family.  And we were happy.  But something would happen every night….and it wasn’t pretty.  I don’t know if it was the bathrooms or the lack of good sleep or having to keep our family of five’s stuff organized, but I fell apart most every evening in some way, shape or form.  Josh wasn’t exactly chipper every second of the evenings either.  The kids each had their moment of “losing it” as well.  Thank the Lord for His grace and love for us…and how He enables us to show grace and love towards others.  We all needed much grace and much love during this trip!  But we made it through all the ups and downs with experiences we will never forget!

We went to Pastor Simon and Mrs. Agnes’ house.  This was a great time.  Frank and Jan’s son, James, was super-close with this family and wanted to build a home behind their home, which he had started to do before he became very sick and died in Africa.  The Harrisons finished what James had started and now the home is used as a guest house for many different people that come to visit Pastor Simon and Agnes.  I enjoyed talking to James’ sister about him and what she misses most about him while we were there.  His death was not in vain, that is for sure.  God has used it to heighten awareness of the needs in this area of Africa in ways only He can!

We took a walk up “Prayer Mountain” and spent time praying together and for the city of Namanga.  A great experience up there!

 

 

We visited a Masai Tribe, which was INCREDIBLE.  The church service was amazing.  They really know how to celebrate!  I enjoyed every bit of being with these people.

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This tribe lives in dung huts.  We went inside one…it is very small and very dark.  Goats were in the one I went inside.  Josh told me that I didn’t notice at the time but he saw the goats pee extremely close to my foot.  I had already been standing in a cow poop field, so what’s a little goat pee?

We spent the night in Namanga again and then got up the next morning to make our way to Namanga Baptist Church.  The kids and I got to help in the Sunday School Class for the children before joining the rest of the group in the church service.  It was quite a different experience from church here in Woodstock, GA.  I enjoyed it very much.

 

What a morning!  It was lovely being with this church in Namanga. We drove back to our hotel for lunch and then the ladies went shopping while the men went on a hike.

 

A full, wonderful day!  There’s more, so stay tuned for Part III….

Africa 2016: Part I

All trips start and end with laundry for mamas!  This trip was no exception. So while I am waiting on clothes to be washed and dried, I will try to post some pictures of the trip.

We had an amazing time in Africa.  Saw so much, experienced so much…..can hardly wrap my head around all of it.  Hoping as I post pictures on the blog I can process some of it.

We made it through the two flights and landed in Nairobi, Kenya where we boarded a bus and headed to our first hotel to try and rest.

We woke up to a rainy day and went to an elephant orphanage and then to a park where we got close with giraffes.

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We ate lunch and continued our journey to Brakenhurst, Kenya where a conference was held by With Open Eyes.  Pastor Johnny taught the ministers and many other people encouraged them through teaching and music and gifts.

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We got in small groups and were able to pray for these ladies who live in different parts of Africa.  The life they lead is more challenging than I can even begin to fathom.  It was an honor to pray for them.

One afternoon we went to a local bead and pottery shop.  This lady with Molly and Ruby has been working and making beads longer than anyone else in the shop.

We traveled from the bead shop towards a glass making store, but the road was not passable, so they sent us a different way where we ended up needing to walk a while to get to the store.  However, the walk was out in the middle of nowhere and then we were supposed to cross over a bridge… I never actually saw the bridge with my own eyes because  I wasn’t going to climb down the cliff to get there.  It was interesting to say the least.  I believe Denise said it best when she said, “I believe this is the dumbest decision I have ever made.”  hahahaa!  Glad we didn’t run into any animals out on our walk.

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Mack led us back to the bus…dodging ants and piles of poop and puddles of water.

We warmed up for a bit and tried to dry our shoes out, finished up the conference and went to dinner before sleeping one more night and heading to Namanga, Kenya for more adventures!

It was such a joy to watch the kids participate on this trip….particularly Ruby.  She was very engaged during the conference and quite observant during all of the time there.  Thankful for all they got to see and hear.  No doubt it will stay with them forever!

More to come!

 

Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous

To say Kelly Minter’s “What Love Is” Bible Study is speaking to me would be an understatement!  It is the study of 1, 2 and 3 John.

Today we settled in on these verses:

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”  I John 2:1-2

She points out that Jesus meets us, “not at our point of achievement–but at our point of failure!”  What a comforting thought.  Kelly Minter goes on to expound on this person who is our advocate:

 “Typically we need an advocate who holds a position we don’t, has power we don’t possess, is granted access to people we can’t get to, has influence we’re without.  This is why John’s reference to Jesus as the Righteous Advocate is so critical!  As sinners, laid bare before a holy God, we need Someone who has what we don’t—righteousness.”

I have no idea how many times Jesus has stood in the gap for me over my life.  Not only did He do this for me at salvation, but a million times more when I needed His protection, His guidance, when I needed course correction or a door thrown open that I had no ability or strength to even know was out there!

I am reminded of Romans 8:26-27 (which has come up three separate times this week):

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

….according to the will of God.  I am so thankful for the Spirit of God who prays for me in ways I cannot comprehend.  I pray I have a humble heart that trembles at His Word and recognizes that I need Jesus Christ as my Advocate and the Spirit of God interceding for me.  In these ways He is giving me life that is truly life when I would, unfortunately, settle for so much less.

L-I-V-I-N’

We have some funny friends.  Josh and one of these funny friends were exchanging texts a couple of years ago.  I can’t remember exactly how the term “L-I-V-I-N'” came to be, but it was related to the new-found ease we were experiencing with the ages of our kids. They had recently added a precious baby to their family, and we were entering the wonderful stage of parenthood when you no longer had to serve a monthly duty in nursery if you weren’t called to that area, where everyone could potty alone, shower alone, eat alone, walk alone–no strollers or carriers required, and everyone could buckle up in the car alone.  It’s a nirvana of sorts on this journey of parenting.

We were truly L-I-V-I-N’!

We laugh about that text exchange often.  LIVIN’ is what we all want, isn’t it? Not surviving, barely making it through each day.  We want LIFE!  Full, productive, passionate and purposeful LIFE!  Sometimes we mistakenly think this LIFE comes with ease in parenting or comforts in our day-to-day life,a healthy body, a paid off house, or vacations, a better job, a financial inheritance that enters our life at the perfect time, allowing us to retire early and travel the world.

Or it could be that we aren’t so grandiose about our ideal of what truly LIVIN’ looks like.  We just want a refrigerator that doesn’t leak and that gives out ice and water from the door like it is supposed to!  We think life would be better if that back passenger door on our car would open up from the inside on its own (I have no idea why that door won’t open from the inside…).  Or maybe we are just sure that life would be more satisfying if we lost 20 pounds.  A covered back deck would allow living through summer to be more enjoyable.

You catch my drift.  I’ve fallen into these ways of thinking many times.  God has used our personal journey to teach me in up-close and personal ways that life is not found in anything here on earth.  Josh has been known to say to me (after a pity-party or reading off a list of what I would like to change around here), “Life isn’t found in those things.”  We have given up our “dream home” before.  We have barely had two pennies to rub together.  We have also had an abundance of material possessions and the blessing of a great job that paid well.  Whether circumstances were difficult or circumstances were easy, life wasn’t lost or found in either.

Jesus makes this crystal clear when He is praying and says this in John 17:3,

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

There you have it.

 L-I-V-I-N’ = knowing God and Jesus Christ.

John 6:35- “Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’ ”

He is our constant source of stability in a world where life can change in a millisecond.  Let’s cling to LIFE.  Let’s cling to Jesus.

Then, we will be truly L-I-V-I-N’ !

 

Boom!

Mack is a funny kid.  He has been known to say something witty or get the right answer to a school question, then follow it up with, “BOOM!”  As if he is saying, “Oh yeah, beat that!!!!!!”

Well, the other day I found this verse written in his little notebook.  I wasn’t really sure what to think about it….but it made me laugh.

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Ruby’s Spend the Night Party

Ruby doesn’t officially turn 12 until Thursday, but we had a few girls over Friday night to celebrate.  It was so fun for Ruby.  She planned it all.  She made the list of foods she wanted and types of ice cream and cake.  She also had a couple of crafts for them to do while they were here.  They watched a movie together and spent the night in the living room.  Each of them were so very kind and polite and fun.  I am thankful for the friends my kids have here!

Ruby had gifts for each of them.  A bible study for middle school girls, a notebook and a pillow case they would all decorate with stencils during the party.

They all read the first chapter together on Saturday morning and did the first quiet time day together.  I loved that.

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Ruby, you planned a fun party!  I loved watching you with your friends.  I hope you love being 12!!  You are such a sweet daughter, and we love you very much!