Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trust, Comfort and Thanksgiving

When all that you know and are comfortable with, is about to change,
you REALLY begin to start looking at what IS TRULY important!
This Thanksgving was probably one of the most spiritual for me!

We started out going through the story of Thanksgiving with our kids and how God was the center of it!  Much reason to celebrate!  ( If only that were the way this country was now!)
  We talked about how hard it must have been for those pilgrims! 
 They too, left all that they knew in search of something greater and trusted God for their needs!  They went through many trials and suffered much but they continued on!  God blessed them and brought them through! 

We decided that in the coming weeks, that is what we must do! 
Wait and watch and see what God will do! He knows where we are going to live! 
 In that waiting, we will trust, do the things that God has us do and not get weary. 
if we do get weary in the waiting, we know that God will strengthen us!
The outcome for the pilgrims was incredible because they knew who they had on their side!
The ever-present, unfailing, God!
I too, was reminded this Thanksgiving that all that I have is His and I can leave it in His hands because He is the same yesterday, today and forever!

I don't know what the future holds, none of us do!
  But my children look to us to show them and they trust us without any doubt! 
 They run and play without a care in the world knowing that we will feed them, clothe them, and tell them of Jesus love!

That is what we must do!
  I have been reminded this past week with all that around me seems to be caving in, that my God CAN be trusted and as a child, I am to leave it my Father's hands!  He will provide!

Oh I am so Thankful!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Journey to Africa ~ Part 3

I felt so small!  So dependant on this God that I thought I knew so well.  That's the thing about African village life!  It will shatter every ignorant assumption your have ever made.  Sooner or later, you will be forced to think.  I realized how little I actually knew. How inadequate I was in comparison to how proud I was previously.  I was learning that brokenness and humility are not optional.  If my desire is to know God and to be used for His glory, the only way that will happen is if I crucify my self and choose the path of brokenness and humility.  Village life was simple.  Wake up to a beautiful sunrise, go bathe (with a small bucket of unclear water in an enclosed grass square area for privacy) and eat breakfast. Hike for an hour, two, or three, maybe up a mountain. 

They have a morning service consisting of praise and worship that could stir up the most stale and stagnant heart. Spirit-led preaching...

 Then, my favorite time!  The time that I SO looked forward to!  I would spend every spare second with the kids and babies! 

 Maybe it was their innocent wonder and curiosity about this crazy foreign white girl who was always either smiling, crying or both! 

 Maybe it was because spoken language was not necessary!  They are thrilled and satisfied with the universal language of a loving smile, a gentle hand grasping theirs, a tickle resulting in an outburst of giggles. 

There was nothing in the whole wide world that I would have traded even for ONE second of this pure bliss! 

I found my soul's delight as I sat holding a little child, effortlessly looking past the filth and stink.  In God's abundant goodness, He allowed me to see what He saw as I looked into each child's eyes.  A priceless, cherished, beloved, sacred, God-ordained blessing that was longing to be delighted in.  Whether for a few moments or a few hours. 

I would pray the mighty blood of Jesus over each child's life.  Then I would do what I enjoyed oh SO much!  I would show them love in action. 

 I realized that to tell a Malawian that God loves, often means nothing.  Why?  They have no grasp of the concept.  Biblical, Jesus-like love is non-existent to them.  So first I loved them with my expressions, eyes full of love, reassuring hugs and touches.  Hours of joyful, carefree play, long walks abounding with skipping, jumping, running, and LOTS of giggles!  Their are no language barriers with giggles!  All of this and so much more to demonstrate love.  Through this, they learn love and that my love was real!  So in turn, I could now point them to their perfect Creator, Lover, and Redeemer!

As my story closes, realize I have so much more!  I could share for months of all of my experiences!  I will share more after I have sifted through more of my thoughts.  The point I want to make with you is all of this works in America too!  Live your life spending each moment loving others with Christ-like love and in doing so , they will be directed to the supply of our love.  Indeed, they shall know we are Christian's by our love! 

Oh and may we all learn to NEVER resent the times when God gives us more than we can handle!  May we see that He is giving us another opportunity to give our burdens to Him.  May we see His glory revealed through our insufficiency!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Journey to Africa ~ Part 2

Trying to get the rest of the story out of a 16 year old BUSY girl, is not an easy task, but she has blessed us with the second part of her Journey to Africa!  Hope you are blessed!

People say that God will never give us more than we can handle.  I don't believe that!  I believe that God absolutely, completely, and purposely gives us more than we can handle.  Why?  So that we can see HIM provide and so we can see how good HE is at doing the impossible.  How ready He is to come through for His weak, broken, helpless, inadequate children.  God gives us more than we can handle to encourage us to surrender it to Him.  This sums up my journeys and lessons learned in Malawi, Africa.

6 weeks in Africa was absolutely NOTHING like what I anticipated.  I thought I was prepared.  Now I realize there is not really much preparation that can be done for something so drastic of a culture shock like I witnessed.  We had a few days in Blantyre before leaving on our first trip to the village.  Those few days were euphoric.  I felt so excited!  I knew that I belonged there and that God had so much in store.  Yet also there were strong feelings of caution and hesitation.  There is no way to describe what it was like to see Malawi for the first time. 

 I expected poverty, but nothing like I saw with my own eyes for the first time.  Orphaned toddlers digging through trash.  Hundreds of people walking every which way, people with absolutely no hope, ambition or vision except to find enough food and water to survive another day. 

Animals everywhere!  Goats, cows, chickens, dogs with bones protruding so much you could count their ribs. 

 I remember staring in wonder as I thought to myself, "This IS just like all the movies, the scenes in Africa!"  No real feeling of safety!  You can't call 911 if you need help!  There is no 911!  I felt so helpless!

My first reaction was probably deep grief and compassion.  The next was utter despair!  How in the world does anyone even make a dent in all this suffering and poverty? 

 Now I know that nobody can.  Only Jesus!  Only the gospel!  Only the souls who are willing to be the hands, feet, tears, and touch of Jesus!

We spent a LONG day of traveling to the first village.  The mountain views were spectacular! 

We arrived in our first village, Chididi after dark. 

 Getting there and stepping out of or Land Rover was surreal.  The whole village crowded around us to see the 'azungus' (white people).  I remember seeing dozens upon dozens of bright eyes looking at me through the dark.  The children were captivated.  Most having never seen a white skinned person in their lifetime!  Later that night I remember gazing up at the immense African sky.  I was in complete awe of the huge, bright, twinkling stars and constellations.  The sky was like nothing I had ever seen before!  Nothing to interfere with God's creation!  With tears streaming down my cheeks from the overwhelming beauty!  I felt so small...

Part 3 next to come!

Please also check this out!  One of my FAVORITE blogs has a giveaway!  Click HERE to see what I mean! In our homeschooling experience we have read many great Christian Books!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Our Father, giver of life and joy, who is like you, Oh Lord, that we should come to you with our praise? You need not these words, for you formed our lips. What is man that you are mindful of him? You own the lives of all that inhabit the earth. Your power, might, and love are seen in the bounty of this season. We gather this day around a table laden with food that you have brought forth. We gather as family and friends whom you brought into this world. We bow before you with humble hearts knowing we live because you brought us to life.
We celebrate this day as a nation of people who have been blessed more than any other people on the face of the earth and at any time. We acknowledge you as the giver of the good we so easily take for granted. Forgive us as we are a forgetful people. Grant us on this Thanksgiving Day, the time to reflect on all the ways you have blessed each of us who has gathered. Increase our understanding of your ways, defeat us when we use our blessings for selfish gain, and remind us to love one another.
Thank you for providing all that we need for life and godliness. Make us to be a light and a blessing to the nations of the world. We acknowledge you as the only true and living God.
We pray this in the name of your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

written by Dawn M. Jones

Friday, November 18, 2011

Foto Friday~ Fishin' for raisins

My 2 year old decided to finish up his brother's cereal
(See the milk trail?)
Needless to say,
the raisins were gone but it took a while for him to master it with his spoon!
I love the perserverance a two-year old has!
sometimes anyway!

Have a beautiful weekend!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Morning wake up crew...

This is what life is like when your #12 and the last one to wake up in the morning...

Morning smiles for everyone!
For a few more years anyway! :)

I'm gonna miss this someday!

Hang in there!  My daughter's Part II of her Journey to Africa coming soon!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Journey to Africa ~ Part 1

My dear, sweet daughter is my guest on my blog today. I have been asked over and over for her to write about her experience so here it is!

As I look back on these past few months, I am still a little numb. You see, when you experience God like we did in Africa, life returning to America can never be the same!

It only took a few seconds of holding a filthy, malnourished, orphan child on my lap and a glimpse into their eyes, to see I was helplessly IN LOVE! I have now realized that a piece of my heart will belong with them forever. Regardless of the thousands of miles of distance that separates us now.
I will back up a bit for you. I am the second oldest of 12 children. I consider my self average in almost every way. I STRONGLY emphasize my many weaknesses and struggles as an American teen whose daily battle is to be in the world but not of it. God called me at 5 years old to be a missionary and I did not know how I would get to that point, I just knew what He whispered in my heart. My trip to Africa only made me more broken and allowed for me to see how things that we think matter in daily life, just don't anymore.

My African journey began about a year ago. I was presented with the opportunity to spend 6 weeks in Malawi, Africa as a part of an intense and challenging discipleship training time at Kalibu Bible School. The first of many "miracles" for this journey was getting permission from my parents. It takes a lot of faith to send your barely 16 year old daughter on a plane flight to a destination over 30 hours away. Across an ocean to a dark continent filled with poverty and potential danger for 6 WEEKS. Knowing there will be undesirable living conditions and nobody even speaks the same language! But with God's mercy, He gave my parents the wisdom and faith to say yes! I am SO grateful for their obedience!

In 7 weeks, we raised $7000! That was a HUGE miracle! God provided EVERY bit of it! Years past, my parents might have been able to contribute more but it was not an option with my dad's job loss in the past year. I knew God was the one that would have to pave the way! We look back and think it had to literally come seeping through cracks in the walls! In other words, we can't trace all the money that came in! While we were IN Africa, people were STILL sending money to my home! We watched God do His work. We bought passports without any money to buy an airplane ticket and just kept believing God would provide at the right time. After we bought the tickets, we still did not have the living expense money! We just kept believing, God WOULD provide. And boy did He ever! I sometimes wondered if He would provide for ME. No, it was not always in MY ideal timing, or in the way that I would have chosen most of the time, but He abundantly provided all that we needed and more!

Looking back, the journey did not begin when I boarded the plane. It began when God was so faithfully present throught all the obstacles that got us to that point of boarding the plane. I remember peeking across the isle, and watching America disappear into the distance as we spent 9 hours flying over nothing but ocean. That was the point when I finally realized the everything about this trip is so massive. I as so small! I asked God to help me to remember my inadequacy as I rested in HIS ability.
After 30 hours of flight time spread over about 3 days, we finally arrived in Blantyre, Malawi. When I stepped off of the plane and onto dusty Malawian soil, I took a deep breath and my heart sang. I had NO idea what God had in store for the next 6 weeks! I was about to be stretched more than I ever would have thought possible. Yet I felt so alive. I had the unshakeable assurance that God had carried me that far and that surely He would carry me the rest of the way. This was where God had me. This is what I had prayed hours and hours for. I dreamed about it and at times wondered if I'd ever make it there, but I did. All the nerves were covered by my smile, as six weeks of the most challenging, incredible moments of my life began!

Stay tuned as I continue to write about my Journey to Africa...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thoughts of Thanks

This year I look back and we have been through some "stuff"!  I realized there are 2 ways to look at things.  You can sit back and complain about all the things you DON'T have OR look at all the things you DO have and realize how much favor and blessing you have on your life from God.  Everyday I can find many things that I am thankful for!  I am overwhelmed with the thought that my Heavenly Father loves me so much, that He has decided to pour out continual blessings in my life!  Hearing of my children's trip while they were in Africa also placed a contentment in my heart that makes me realize just how much we do have and that we are a blessed people!  I will never look at things the same way!

I am thankful for...
healthy children...a loving husband...loving parents...a place to live...appliances...pillows and blankets...beds...a bible to read whenever I want ...ability to learn ...electricity and water...the ability to feed 12 abundance of on children's faces...birthday's...dates with my hubby...dates with my children...talks with my daughters...a 18 year old who still likes mom to give him hugs...hugs and kisses in general...socks...closet full of clothes ...people giving us clothes...thrift stores..children who love God!

A God who never gives up on me!
 Extreme Mercy
Extravagant Grace
Unwavoring Acceptance
Unconditional love
Hope that He holds my future

When we look at the things that we have, it gives us reason to celebrate and look at things differently!  We can rejoice and know that we are a blessed people.  Even when things around us are going crazy, it is ALWAYS possible to see the good if we choose to do so. 
Write a list, I ensure you, it will brighten your day and it will make your load seem a little lighter!
Make it a habbit to have..

Coming this week...
my daughter will be sharing her journey to Africa!  Stay tuned!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Foto Friday~ gigantic rabbit

This is not a joke! 
This rabbit is only 7 months old!
We are wondering just how HUGE it is going to get!
I'm just glad my kids buy his food!
Have a GREAT weekend!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thoughts on everything...

I am SO ready for winter

We have gotten a taste of it

The kids played in snow yesterday

Well, really they got to scoot their hands across the hood of our car and got it on their mittens

That was a BIG tease

Christmas is my favorite time of the year

I don't like how everyone bypasses Thanksgiving

I am thankful for friends

The older I get, the more I see just how special it is to have other's call you 'friend'

I hope when my daughters are adults, they will consider me their best friend and confidant

That is what my mom is for me

I love to share things with her

She always understands and encourages me

My baby is WAY to mobile

She is crawling AND pulling herself up!

I guess she knows she better get up and moving to keep up with her brothers

I have gotten used to drinking coffee in the evening

I have a friend who has Island Coconut coffee

I know jealousy is a bad thing but I AM jealous! :)

It is one of those fancy coffee makers that I would love to have someday!

Not really a chance of that when your house is in foreclosure and your husband has no job!

I am still happy I can make Snicker-doodle coffee that I got for my birthday, in my old fashioned coffee maker

About a year ago, mine was broke and I did not have one

I have decided to stay home at least 3 days a week without going ANYWHERE
I just get more done that way

I am learning to say "no" more to things outside the home

My husband has been finding work

It has been God's blessing

We are learning to live more and more by faith with EVERYTHING

It is not easy and predictable

That is how I like things

God is showing me that it is more "fun" to live His way

My kids are learning His provision first hand

My little boy is praying for a new pair of tennis shoes

I can't wait to see how God gives them to him

"We have not because we ask not"

He has asked and His faith is SO strong

He asks me everyday if this is the day he will get his shoes from God

I tell him he will receive them when God knows he needs them

It is hard to pack not knowing where you will be living

God knows, so I will just keep moving forward

I think we get to be in our home through the holidays

I am thankful for that!

My baby keeps waking up at night

Not sure why

As my grandma used to say...

"This too shall pass!"

I am reminded that someday, all that we are going through, will pass also

I pray I learn all that God wants me to learn through this

If we do not have trials, then that means we are living a complacent life

I am thankful for this trial because that means God sees it worth while to try me

Are you going through something in your life that God is wanting to use for His glory?

Take advantage of it!

To you, it might seem like a set-BACK

God can use it as a set-UP to show you more of Himself!

Monday, November 7, 2011

7 months ago

 I found these pitures today from EXACTLY 7 months ago
I was reminded of the terrible feelings I had at that time
she was 6 pounds and so sickly.
I put her in God's hands and knew He would provide for her and me
 I'm so thankful this part of her life is past us
but I learned so much from it!
 She was SO precious then and has grown a HUGE and DEEP well of love in 13 peoples hearts!
Each day with her is a blessing and today I was reminded again just how much I appreciate her little life in ouir family!!
From her scary beginnings to this!
7 months and 2 ounces shy of 16 pounds!
What a gift she is!


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