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To God be the Glory...

...great things he hath done!

Big and little.

Lately I have been in awe of all the "little" ways God has been showing himself to me.  Ways that can only be him, because there is no other explanation.  Things that in the grand scheme of life don't seem like they (as far as that particular action) really matter.  But he knew they mattered to me - and he showed himself!

I guess he always does - but sometimes it does not seem as obvious.  Or is it that sometimes I am not looking as intently?

One of the things that Shawn has felt God has told him again and again in the support raising process is that when we finally get to the point where it is not about our contacts, our friends, our abilities,  then he will intervene.  And in doing so, HE will get the glory.  Well, he is getting that now.  We have reached the end of the line when it comes to natural contacts and people to ask.  We have spoken with almost every family member and friend/acquaintance we have ever know!  An…

Hurt

This morning I had the fun task of taking RJ to the dentist.  For some reason my youngest two have bad teeth - weak enamel or the fact that they only floss when I am standing over them glaring are probably the biggest reasons, because we don't eat a lot of sticky, sweet things!  A couple years ago I had to take Andrew to the dentist and he was put under conscious sedation.  It was one of the worst experiences of my life!  After over an hour of yelling, screaming, crying out for help and calling my name as I held him down so they could operate, they fixed 8 cavities and pulled several teeth.  (They also cleaned them while he was under!)  They were right - he didn't remember a thing - but I was scarred for life.

Today they gave RJ laughing gas and then Novocaine, but he still had a hard time when they actually started pulling.  Watching him grab the chair and cry was terrible.  For one thing, I had inadvertently lied to him.  I was under the assumption the reason I was paying …

climbing mountains

This last week we spent time with friends in northern Maine, at a family cabin.  It was a wonderful time with many fun things to do, and we are so grateful for it!  I also learned (re-learned?) an important lesson as we decided to go hiking in Acadia National Park.

My friends, Hannah and Christina, are kind of super hikers.  They would say that was not true, but it is.  So when they suggested doing the Beehive, I was apprehensive.  Then I looked it up online and got even more nervous.  I was not thinking so much about the straight up hike for myself as I was the fact that I had to watch the kids do it!  When the warning signs look like the one below, you tend to think twice as a mom!

However, just the day before we went exploring an island that had a lot of cliffs and rocks to climb and the kids did awesome so I decided to give it a try.

When we pulled up and saw the mountain that was the Beehive, I tried not to show my distress.  I knew there was no way I could keep up with these…

reminders

Isn't it wonderful how God has created us with so many ways to be touched emotionally through all our senses?  I see my kids smile and feel like the world is right; I smell freshly cut grass and lilacs and it means new beginnings and hope; I feel the weightlessness of my body floating in the cool lake, and it resets my mind back to being settled; I taste the warm, exotic spices that flavor indian foods and I think there cannot be a better culture as far as food goes; and I hear the voice of a friend that I haven't seen in far too long over the phone, and it transports me back to a time and place we were together.

I had that last experience tonight.

Talking with Althea on the phone made me so very happy!  Althea was the woman who stepped in when we were in Malawi and floundering around not knowing what we were supposed to be doing!  She was the one the pastors took us to when we said, "Please take us to a white person."  She drove me to the ER and took care of all t…

commissioned

As missionaries, we have been commissioned a few times in our lives.  The churches that we have come from have sent us out and prayed over us.  The actual definition of commission, if you look it up in webster's dictionary is this:  "Order or authorize to do or produce something."  Kind of generic in terms of things, yet in the missionary world it is on par with being told, "You have our blessing.  Not only that- you have our prayers and we are praying for you to have the power and the authority to go and produce disciples."  We know those churches stand behind us, pray for us and with us, encourage us, support us, and are a big part of what we are doing.  It's a special relationship.

But we have never had the opportunity to be commissioned quite the way we were last weekend.
                                                The kids with their great grandma Boda!

Shawn's grandmother turns 100 this year!  And in honor of her 100th birthday and in celeb…

Poema

Ever have one of those weeks at a camp or a retreat, or maybe just time spent alone with God and you take in so much good stuff that you can't digest it all at once?  That was last week at Delta Lake for me.  The morning speaker, Dr. Frank Chan from Nyack College and ATS, spoke into my life as though he had been following us around for the last year taking notes.  Each day I went and pulled out my phone and wrote down everything he said as fast as I could - because I have to keep my hands moving to pay attention to what is being said.  Yes, I am that learner.

So as I went through my notes this week to review, the thing that kept popping up in my head was one of the things he said the first day.  We are God's "poema."  This word, in Greek literally means, "That which is made."  It's where our English word poem comes in.  I have heard it said we are God's masterpiece, we are his workmanship, we are his work of art.  And all these paint a beautiful p…

language learning

One of the things that we conversed about with the Massos as we met last week was language learning.  There are a few languages in Mundri - the two main ones being Moru and Juba Arabic.  There is obviously not a Rosetta Stone for either of these languages (Juba Arabic is quite different form the more formal Arabic), and so one of the trainings that we will be going to is a language learning training.  Honestly, I don't even know what that means.  All I know is that we will learn skills that help us pick up language by being immersed in it.  
There came the question - how do you immerse yourself into a community enough to learn the language?  The singles on the team have all done home stays with friends in the community.  These can be as short as a few days or as long as a few weeks.  It is ideal, because it not only surrounds you the language, but the culture.  You are cooking, cleaning, living among people the way they live.  That's all fine and dandy for one person - but 6?…

philly fun

Woke up this morning feeling a little sad.  We had an amazing day with some of our team members that are here in the States right now.  We spent the entire day on Monday with the Masso family, mostly hanging out at Aunt Linda and Uncle Fred's house as the kids swam in the creek and the adults (and RJ) sat in the shade and talked about everything.  There was also some baseball time and, of course, some swordplay for the boys.  ;)
(The boys had a great time doing boy things all night - especially with the walkie talkies!)

Then Tuesday we went to the Sending Center (WHM headquarters in Jenkintown) and said hi to some people there while they were in the middle of a week of A& O.  The exciting thing about this is that there are two new members of the team getting ready to go to South Sudan from this!  Yay!  It's a married couple, and we look forward to getting there and getting to know "Aunt" Theresa and "Uncle" Will better.  We also had the chance to fina…

Acting like an orphan

"A believer is living as an 'orphan' when he or she has in some way or other lost touch with the grace of God. In isolation from the promises, the orphan has developed a small view of Christ and a small view of the gospel. In contrast, a believer is living as a son or daughter when he or she is walking in faith, and living according to God’s promises. Sons and daughters have a large Christ and a large gospel." The Sonship Course, WHM

 We have been traveling a lot again recently - different beds every night. This usually means that I leave behind stuff, or discover that I have forgotten something. (The most recent thing I forgot was our prayer cards - kind of an important thing when you are raising support!) sigh...

 As I got in the van yesterday I was on the verge of tears. "I forgot my shampoo and conditioner, so I will have to buy yet another bottle! I'm tired of this! I'm ready to give up!" Haha - even as I write that, I realize how child…

in Dad's footsteps

Yesterday Shawn, his dad, RJ, and I went for a walk in the woods behind my in-law's house.  Shawn was reminiscing about life there growing up, and even commented, "This is where my love of adventure started."  RJ came along because his other option was jumping on the trampoline with his siblings, and he hates that.  So he decided to trudge along with us.  He was quite a trooper, and ended up enjoying the walk.  We saw a pond full of beavers and their dams, raccoon and deer tracks, turkey feathers that quickly became a treasure and even a brand new baby deer bedded down in the field outside the woods.  It was a wonderful walk through nature!


At one point we were walking through a path that was filled with pricker bushes.  I got stuck on a few and Shawn helped me out, then RJ was feeling intimidated to walk by them.  Shawn started tromping down the path in front of him and told RJ to follow his path.  Whenever he was nervous he would look back at me, and I would simply re…

the sappiest top ten

Shawn and I have been married for 17 years today!  In this day and age, that is an eternity!  We do a lot of marriage  counseling and pre-marital counseling with other people, and because of that I am often of reminded of how blessed I am, and how much marriage is a gift from God.  This post is not meant to hurt anyone out there struggling with singleness or a hurting marriage - if you are our friends, you know we pray for you constantly!  Actually this post is not designed for anything except to say thanks to God for this full, amazing marriage he has given me!  So here goes...

Ten reason why marriage to Shawn rocks!

10.  I have a live-in bug killer!  As you know from  a recent post, I hate bugs.  I remember clearly when we were in Florida on our honeymoon...we were fast asleep and a big bug crawled on me.  I threw it across the room, then couldn't sleep because I was afraid it would come back!  Shawn patiently got up and looked around, then when he couldn't find it made up …

scars of life

Yesterday the kids and I were talking about scars.  It started when John pointed one out on his arm and said, "I still have this scar."  I told him it might fade, but the scar would always be there if he looked hard enough.  This got us looking all over our arms and legs and talking about the scars and where they came from.  Some of the stories were cool, in a gross out sort of way - bones sticking through skin, cuts from an Africa adventure, and a weird burn scar on Shawn's arm from a lawn mower that the nurse thought he had don purposely for me because it looked like a heart!  Others were more silly or embarrassing - the pencil points stuck in Anna's head and John's leg, or the numerous shaving scars from when I was a teenager (Seems I was always in a hurry!)  There were a few that were not shown, but talked about - the scars from C-sections or gallbladder surgeries.  Shawn also has a scar from his cleft lip surgeries all through childhood.

Scars are kind of …

cockroaches and crabbiness

It's amazing how something so little can be my undoing!  Tonight I saw a cockroach.  Well, actually I saw two - and the second one did not make me react any less than the first!  I know,  I know - I can hear you all now, "You're moving to Africa.  Suck it up, honey."  This is not the first time those little brown (or black, depending on where you live) bugs have made me question my sanity.  A few years ago when we visited what was then Sudan, I wrote a blog about waking in the night and losing it over a cockroach I almost stepped on while going to the bathroom!  (I was trying to post it here, but for some reason the blog has no title.  You can look it up back in 2010 if you want proof!)  Those things give me the creeps!



It's the element of surprise, you know?  There you are - making breakfast  and minding your own business when suddenly one scurries past you on the counter in your peripheral vision!  Too fast to be sure, but not so fast that you have any real d…

My Rock and my Redeemer

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh Lord my Rock and my Redeemer."  Psalm 19:14



I have known this verse since for as long as I can remember - it is as easily recitable as John 3:16 to me!  .An amazing woman and pastor's wife, Charm Fields, has had us recite this for as long as I can remember.  When I first learned it, it was like a wonderful prayer.  Many times as I repeated it, I wasn't even paying attention to the words.  But there have been times that it has come back to my mind in the moments I needed it - the way all of God's word does as we take time to memorize and pray through it.

Today I was getting ready for the day and it came to mind as I was praying.  But something strange happened.  Usually as I get to the end - the "Lord my Rock and my Redeemer" part, I kinda mumble through it.  After all, the asking of God to change and reshape our hearts and words is the important part, right?  You c…

solar powered

I'm pretty sure I'm solar powered.  When the sun is gone, it is cold and damp, and the landscape seems colorless, I feel the same way.  Everything affects me differently in these times.  Oh, I love a good, powerful thunderstorm - as long as it doesn't last for weeks or months. Then bring on the sunshine!  I start to feel like I can do anything, like the world really does have some good people in it, and like there is something to smile about.  And I know most people feel this way, but (ask my husband) I am extreme in it.  I have researched the places in the world where the sun shines the most so that I know where to live!  ;)  (I can't tell you the percentage of days that South Sudan has sunshine, but it's a good bet that they have more than upstate NY!)

Please be in prayer for us as we head south again this week to speak at some churches, meet more people, and soak up the sunshine.  We have a lot more support to raise, and we are praying that this trip helps us o…

white canvas

I am kind of a control freak.  Yes, I know - I am sure that comes as a surprise to you.  ;)   Well, believe it or not, it still surprises me from time to time!  The tightness that I like to try to hold the reigns in my life is astounding to me at times.  And when things don't happen the way I envision them, it totally throws me off.

Today was a day that I talked, yelled, cried, prayed, and finally surrendered (again) to God.  But this was a different way.  Today I realized that I had to give up my vision of what the future looks like.  I feel confident that God has us working with WHM in South Sudan.  But how that plays out, what it looks like, when, who is with us, and the little details are things that I have come to accept (at least in this moment) that I don't know.  And probably won't until they are happening.  I have had so many paintings  in my head - dreams of how things will look, the time frame, reasons about why those things are "right."  But today, …

puzzlin'...

I am slightly obsessed with doing puzzles.  Usually this happens each winter when I want to hibernate and start to get bored.  But for some reason this season I have continued doing them even with nice(ish) weather.  And it's not just a puzzle here and there.  Anna and I went to the dollar store a few different times and bought a bunch of simple 500 piece puzzles.  And they are mostly all done.

As I was finishing one today and feeling so accomplished, it dawned on me that is probably why I am having puzzle overload lately...it is one of the only things in my life I have any control over right now; one of the only things that I can can "complete" and get done.

Support raising continues to be one of the hardest things we have ever done (and we have been in some crazy churches!)  The worst part is that there are days where we wake up and wonder, "What exactly are we supposed to be doing today?"  We can put in days of work in a mailing, or calling people, planni…

Just visiting

When we lived in Malawi it was custom to welcome visitors that were in your church.  And not just a handshake and a "hi," but you had to have them come to the front of the church, have them tell their name, why they were there, where they were from, who they knew at the the church, etc.  It always seemed like overkill to me, as a person who would have preferred to stay tucked away in the back row (also not allowed - especially as a white visitor!)  But it would have been offensive to them if the whole thing had not been played out.

Personally, I hate being a visitor.  We have been "visiting" a different church at least once a week for a couple of months now.  And please don't get me wrong - most of these churches have welcomed us with open arms and warm hearts.  It's not about the host.  But inside me I cringe at the term.  "Visitor" implies that you don't really belong there; that you are not part of the daily activities there enough to kno…

even the winds and the waves obey him

Mark 4:35-41 New International Version (NIV) Jesus Calms the Storm35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

As I was reading this to the boys before bed tonight, I actually had to stop at verse 40.  They looked at me, puzzled for a moment about what the hold up was, so I finished reading.  Then we talked abo…

one of the reasons...

I realized as I was talking with friends tonight about our time in Malawi that there are so many stories from that life that have shaped who we are, what we believe, and why we do what we do, and I have not shared too many of them.  They felt personal and overwhelming sometimes.  And the fact that we are not going back to Malawi, but rather to South Sudan made me decide not to share much about the "previous" life.  But tonight I remembered some of the reasons why we are continuing on this path, and since we have had a lot of questions like, "Why Africa, don't we have problems here?" I decided it was time to share.

While we were in Malawi we became dear friends with the pastors that we worked with and their families.  There were a few of the wives that I particularly got to know and love, and they were a buffer for me in this new, crazy culture that I had no experience with.  They helped me communicate, understand when to speak and when to accept, and know wha…

the one where I whine until it comes full circle...

Ok, I admit it - I am grumpy.  I am looking outside at yet another grey, colorless day with white flakes coming down, and it is ticking me off.  I really hate winter.

And I know - I should be thankful because I missed the month of January while support raising in the south.  I should be thankful that I am looking at just another month of real winter, then spring will be here.  I should be thankful that I am in a warm, dry house - even if that house isn't mine.  Maybe especially because that house isn't mine.  Even in our travels we have been housed, cared for, and loved.

But honestly, I just feel grumpy.  And impatient. And ornery.  And though my original hope was to get on here and write about it as it fell away from me, I realize that is not happening this time, and I have a choice to make.

sigh...

I don't want to make a choice.

(Please read above line in the best whiney voice you can conjure up.)

What do I want?
I want to be somewhere warm and sunny.  I want to se…