Tag Archives: #madamoments

Would You Find a Toothless Woman Beautiful?


IMG_9316I climbed into a ditch yesterday to get eye level with a woman who had been looking my way. I was the only white female around and with my ultra white skin and this long auburn hair, I’m sure that I stood out more than I realized.

It had been a dream of mine for about 2 years to stand where I was standing. There are factories nearby my house and many Malagasy people work there and eat out on the streets on their very short meal breaks.

There is a harvest in my backyard basically and I wanted to go and love on them.

I had just shared with the people on the love of God and the way that it has changed my life. There were tears as I saw glimpses of God’s heart over each one who listened to me.

I spoke with and prayed for several at the end of my sharing time and I kept my eyes open for anyone else whom God might want me to pray with.

My translator stuck by my side and thankfully he is a bold young man who loves Jesus so he went along with my leading him person to person.

After many smiles and warm prayers had been offered, I knew it was time to go and greet this one who was continually looking my way. I climbed down onto her level and smiled.

I began to ask her name and if there was anything that she needed prayer for.

There was indeed, so I asked her like the others I had prayed for if I could hold her hand.

Her eyes widened as she heard my translation come through in her mother tongue. She looked back at me and covered up her smile.

This white girl wanted to hold her hand.

Then I said what a beautiful smile she had. To which she shook her head like any woman who’s insecure and being complimented would do.

The only difference between her insecurities and maybe a friend back home is that she is missing most of her teeth.

Not only that, but the remaining teeth were rotting.

I meant what I said though—that she had a beautiful smile.

She was beautiful. Far more than the so referred to ideals of beauty that only masks what real beauty is.

Here she was not hiding who she really was. There was no escaping that she’s grown up less fortunate than anyone I know from the USA. There’s no hiding the fact that she’s not had access to proper dental care or hygiene. Her wrinkles on her young face reveal many harsh days in the sunlight working and the physical stress her body has endured.

We prayed for her specific needs and I also encouraged her that she is a daughter of God just like me. That there might be differences in our lives naturally, but we are the same value with Him and we are loved by Him.

We continued to talk and I watched as her countenance changed. How her eyes softened more and received more love like sunlight to her heart.

I repeatedly told her how beautiful her smile was and each time it grew broader and brighter.

Her sister came along, not missing any visible teeth and was equally as beautiful. We talked and prayed and then they thanked me and walked away.

I thought about this dear smile.
This toothless face and the precious sight it is to my Father in Heaven.
I thought of the joy that Jesus has over this one who to the best of her knowledge loves Him and worships Him.
This one who He paid the price for in dying on the cross.

Then I thought about the social media world and it’s view on beauty.

I’ve never seen a popular post of a picture of a woman with no make-up and saying many comments of “Wow you’re so beautiful!”, “GORGEOUS!”, “Ow Ow super-model friend”.

I know I’ve often remarked on my friend’s posts of wearing no make-up, but it’s not the normal and pictures of women without make-up is by large, rare.

I’ve never seen people get all excited over some woman’s outfit that is just “plain Jane” or one that is mismatched, has holes, and is tattered like my toothless friend.

The reality is that we don’t see beauty like God sees it.

We look for the no wrinkles, flawless, put together, something we can all desire type of beauty.

We post about the latest trends, style the latest haircuts and colors, and keep one another in a constant comparison trap. All the while the true beauties of the world get pushed out of sight.

Back to my original question, would you find a toothless woman beautiful?

You might answer yes particularly if you can picture this Malagasy woman I have described and have a sense of compassion. BUT is your “yes” based on sympathy and feeling sorry for her? Is your scale of beauty adjusted to fit someone who’s life is lived in the dust and dirt of Africa? Or can you confidently saw yes because no matter if you are looking at this precious one or the woman next to you at work, you see true beauty. You see it in the ones that others would call “ugly”. You see beauty in the faces of those who would never grace a magazine about beauty and style. You see it because you’ve seen the one whom “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him”. (Isaiah 53:2)

There was nothing in Jesus’ nature that marked beauty or denoted an attractiveness like a King, yet the beauty of His love and life is far greater than any person will ever have.

When we see His beauty and gain His heart, we see the beauty in others, even if there is ugliness in their hearts that makes them unkind.

Beauty isn’t in a perfectly set of straight teeth or in a perfectly arched eyebrow. It certainly isn’t in an expensive dress or in the shade of hair dye.

Beauty is in the heart of God who created everything and said that “It is good”. He created you. He created me. He created the sunsets, the rainbows and the stars. And he calls things beautiful like my toothless friend.

Don’t be afraid to climb down into the ditches of life and to search out beauty where few are brave enough to explore. You’ll find great treasures of beauty there hidden just to reveal themselves to you.

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Observations of a 6 Month Old Missionary

I want to start this entry by removing the “elephant” in the room (which is only appropriate because I’m in Africa ;) ) and say that the challenges that I’ve faced with my health have definitely created an unusual first few months on the field. Instead of settling in and immersing myself in learning languages and a new culture, I was chasing doctors and trying to get out of pain. That being said, there has been a lot of unplanned events, however God has done great things and taught me a lot. Here’s some humorous pictures to illustrate how I feel followed by what I’ve learned in my first 6th months as a missionary in Africa.

be a missionary
photo 2

#1–I confirmed my hatred for bugs…Yes it’s true! I’m a girly girl and while I already couldn’t stand bugs, I’ve confirmed that there is indeed a hatred for them and I’m sure I’ll be asking God one day in Heaven what the purpose of creating them was. The top of my list of questioning is anything that stings, then the newly acquainted bed bugs, closely followed by mosquitoes, safari ants and last by certainly NOT least, cockroaches.

#2—Carpet is now weird to me.
Tonight was the first time in 6 months that my feet touched carpet and it was really REALLY weird! I didn’t even know why I stopped walking and felt weird for a minute or so and then I realized it was because I was on carpet. Everything I’ve walked on has been tile, wood, or rocks.

#3—I have an appreciation for simplicity.
I downsized significantly when we moved to Madagascar. We bought basic things that we would need to live there, but for the most part I had to detach myself from a lot of things and come to terms that it was all just “stuff”. When we came to Kenya for only an intended 8 day trip that then lasted for 10 weeks due to medical reasons, I learned that less is more and I really CAN survive on minimal clothes, no computer, my every day items, etc. We stayed in 10 difference places and being ill in all of that transition was difficult, but certainly not impossible. When we went home to Madagascar at the beginning of July, I was actually overwhelmed with how much I really did have. I sat on the floor in my bedroom more than once and cried because I didn’t know how to decide what to wear. Now that I’m back in Kenya with yet again only one piece of luggage, I’m learning to not hold onto anything I own and it’s freeing in a way. God has continually provided over and over for Stephen and I in our nearly two years of being married and we’ve never lacked in anything from furniture to food. In going through testing, my attachment to material things has changed so much. Just when I think I’m missing out or start to desire things on this Earth, God surprises me with something of more eternal value.

#4–Opportunity is EVERYWHERE!
No matter what difficulty might have been going on personally, people who need Jesus have always surrounded me. This has caused me to continually pour out love. We’ve seen God touch hearts at gas stations, restaurants, hospitals, doctors’ offices and in church services. I just happen to be in Africa, but you don’t have to travel far to bring hope into someone’s life. People need Jesus all around you in everyday situations that you find yourself in.

#5–Being myself is all I need to be.
I stepped into this season feeling uncomfortable in so many ways. I faced leaving all that was near and dear; my hometown, my own background of ministry, my friends and family. I lacked full-time missions experience in comparison to my husband who is a linguistic and is in my opinion a stellar missionary. I compared myself to other missionary women who have raised grown kids, lived overseas for many years, were skilled in sewing, and great cooks. I’m not a Susie Homemaker or from the denomination that I’m currently working for and I felt awkward. To add to this, as a missionary, you’re trying to adapt to a new culture and learn new languages. The art of comparison was a daily challenge and I felt pressured to change who I was. I’m still learning all kinds of new things and I love learning and growing, but I’ve learned most to be content to be who God created me to be. If God wanted to raise me any other way or with any other background and skill set, He would’ve done so. When I operate in insecurity and pressure, I can’t contribute my God-given uniqueness to an environment…and let’s be honest; I will just be really awkward ;) I have my weaknesses, my quirks and shortcomings, but even in this I have to allow God to work on me and through me. If I’m not being true to myself, I’ll fail to represent God rightly to others.

#6—I often miss weird things about home.
The other day I literally daydreamed about donuts…((GAGS))! I can not even tell you the last time that I had one which was 4 or more years ago. There is absolutely no way if I was in the States that I’d get near a donut and be tempted, but literally I desired it the other day. I need help people—keep praying for me! ;) I find that I often miss odd things like that which symbolize home or wish I was home to participate in things that I probably wouldn’t have even done if I was there.

Seriously I’m the type of person that HAS to interact with others. I work better when I am around people. I’ve always thrived in jobs where I was interacting with others. This season of very limited Internet and most of my relationships being thousand of miles away has been more than challenging. I’ve found myself even today completely STARVED for social interactions and upon meeting up with an old friend I just want to chat chat chat. If I come home and talk even more than usual, please extend some grace ;) I’ve been in new culture and foreign languages where I pantomime most of the time…and talk to my sweet patient husband all day. What do I miss most about home? People. What is the best part of every day? People. I guess this just means that I am in the right job to serve and love people :) But really…I need social interactions with peers!

#8–I have my dream job, but it’s not dreamy.
My pictures at the top describe how I feel often. But really, I’ve dreamed of being in Africa since I was a little girl and as a missionary for about a decade. It’s not that I romanticized it entirely, but I have found that I did to a degree. I’ve found that it’s not always easy to be far away from all that was comfortable and facing challenges that you’d never face back home. Yet at the end of the day it is fulfilling, as it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I cry when I think of lost people around me, when I see them hurting, and when I hear stories that demand a response from God. It’s heartbreaking to continue to see pain and lost people and to know that not all will find salvation and freedom. This is why I know this dream to go to the nations is of God and not something that I dreamed up.

#9–Missions is as much for you as it is for me.
I’m not suggesting that everyone reading this is called to go into full-time missions, but I also don’t want to suggest that I’m specially qualified for this. In fact many of you would have slept more and functioned higher here than I have in this season ;) I’ve realized more than ever that I NEED Jesus absolutely EVERY moment of EVERY day. I’m not anyone who is qualified in a special way or permitted more grace than anyone else to be a missionary. God’s heart beats for missions and because I fell in love with His heart, my heart beats for it too. That’s why I am here in Africa and the same can apply to you wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. As a child of God, you too can be whoever He has called you to be by simply loving Him and obeying Him. If he calls you to move your life overseas and do missions work, you CAN do it! If you’re called to start a business or get a higher education to serve Him with, you CAN do it. There is grace to love Him freely and live for Him rightly even when it’s uncomfortable to our flesh and desires. We are living in a critical hour where MANY need to know of His great love no matter where we find ourselves in this world.

*Lastly, I’d like to say that #10—Steripods are a MUST!…they are little sterilizing non-toxic clips to put on your toothbrush bristles and…amen! No ant, cockroach, gecko etc., will crawl on your toothbrush! It is at the top of my list of things to stock up on in the USA :)

Just for more laughs, since SK is an MK (Missionary kid) here’s another pic
photo 1

Interrupted Dinner

I watched her tall figure shrink into a small stature as she rounded the corner from the smoke filled air she had just departed. My brain rushed to take in what we had walked in upon.

We had just eaten dinner at a restaurant we enjoy frequently. It’s been a bit of an oasis for us and a guaranteed consistent quality service and food. We had a bit of a challenging day and thought we’d take it easy and let someone else prepare our food. The ambiance is always delightful with the lit pool amidst the palm trees. The only thing unappealing was the canard (or duck) small plate that was complimentarily served. Gag!

When dinner was over, we decided to venture to the rest of the grounds of the hotel. We had eaten here earlier this week with some friends visiting from Kenya. Their youngest child of 17years was with them and he ventured off to see this beautiful hotel units. We had never left the dining hall or pool area and the air is so perfect tonight so we decided to go for a walk. That’s when we saw her.

While other guests were dining, she was leaving her client and headed to who knows where. Once we saw her we knew she was up to no good. The clothes were so tight and left little to the imagination. She rounded the corner and quickly exchanged her 6”heels for some practical flip flops for her journey home. She tugged down her shirt and let down her hair some. It seems she’d played the part and was now resuming normal appearance.

Completely disgusted and in shock, we continued on the pathway towards the man she’d just left. He was now smoking and drinking from a large bottle of hard liquor. I wanted to throw up and hide from his appearance. Matter of fact I said out loud repeatedly not caring if he knew English that I was going to throw up! We walked back towards the well lit area of the street connecting the buildings as quickly as possible and my eyes searched for her. There she went walking down a narrow alleyway disappearing into the night. I kept my eyes glued upon her until I could see her no more. Stephen knew why I’d stopped and gently whispered for me to keep walking. I couldn’t though. I couldn’t even pray. I just let my heart sink and my eyes grow weary.

I know this goes on probably thousands of times everyday here. I see what some call the “Father Abraham Club” with the old often French/European men and the young Malagasy women. Yet most public displays I witness are marriages of such age differences, not hotel hook ups. I’ve been in other parts of the world and walked past brothels, prostitutes, and stayed in hotels where men have paid off women in the lobbies. It’s not like I don’t know what’s going on, but tonight this was close to home. There are women on the streets selling themselves nearby my house. But this is a place I’ve gone to get away from all of that. To have some sanity in the chaos of living here. And here in my “comfort zone” was this scenario.

God likes to interrupt me when I’m feeling comfortable and reveal His heart. Just when I get comfy, He stops me usually abruptly and shows an area where His light ceases to exist. He finds me when I’m trusting in my own abilities and empowers me with His grace. Tonight in a place I’ve called a refuge, I was confronted by the gross darkness of sin. I was reminded of why light must shine in darkness.

I watched as this young woman walked away from such a scenario. Questions filled my mind. Where would she go next? Has she been so filled with lies and lust from others that she is numb to a possibility of real love? I turned and leaned into my husband’s embrace. My husband who saved himself for me not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. It made our disagreements and challenges seem so small. Why do my arms find love and peace and hers find lust and abuse?

I’m thankful for those moments where I’m pricked with the sting of death around me and remember the hope for which I am called. It’s not easy to be confronted with real life. It’s messy and in your face sometimes, but it is necessary to compel us to be His hands and feet in a hurting world.

May God arise and let His enemies be scattered!

Reasons That Keep Us From The Cross

Inspired by reflecting on the Easter story, I am writing this blog tonight. I’m thinking back to the productions I’ve been a part of and the noted difference of the disciples and who followed Christ to the end. Below are 3 reasons I believe they could’ve caused them not to follow and are reasons we are capable of falling into.

1. We’re afraid of the consequences of what others might do to us.

Scoffers were at the foot of the cross. Surely the centurions weren’t silent in their slaughtering displays. I often wonder why the other disciples weren’t there. What was it that compelled John and Mary Magdalene to follow so closely? It’s understandable that a good mother who loved her son would be near, but even at the risk of her own life is amazing. I think these three knew Him in such a way, understood His heavenly purpose in such a way that they had to draw near. They had already given up all else at this point and had nothing to lose. They were surely mocked at, frowned upon and resented by others. Yet there they were at the foot of the cross, beholding the One who loved them. They drowned out all of the other voices and beheld the voice of the One they gave all to follow.
I wonder how often our thoughts of others keep us from drawing near to the cross?

2. We are afraid of what the future holds if we are found with Him.

Peter, a follower of Christ denies Jesus in His darkest hour. When confronted with accusation, instead of identifying with the Son of God and His righteous stand, we find this disciple cursing His name. Where were the 9 close disciples that night? Where did they scurry off to? Were they hiding in hopes they wouldn’t be found out also? Were they trying to secure future plans now that their ideal world of following Christ didn’t manifest? Were they making preparations to go back into tax collecting and catching fish since that was an area of comfort to them?

Likewise, how often do we deny the cross of Christ because it’s inconvenient to our way of living, to our plans, and to our pride?

3. We know that the true revelation of the One who was slain would change us entirely.

It was ok for the disciples to follow Jesus as long as He was the hero in the stories. Who doesn’t want to be around a good man and a qualified leader? Who doesn’t get a thrill seeing miracles take place? The crowds would gather to hear Jesus speak, so you know His words compelled others. So why did this man have so few who stood with Him at His death? Why did those who were closest to Him not even stand with Him in prayer before he was taken at the hands of the soldiers? It’s easy to stand for Him on a superficial level. Anyone can stand in the back of a church, read their bibles and pray. Few then and few now can face Him in His moment of greatest sacrifice. Many who don’t know Him as Lord, but know what He did chalk Him up to simply be, “a good man”, “prophet”, “teacher” etc.. People can say many good things about Christ, but if we never truly behold Him as the sacrificial lamb of God, the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of our sins, we aren’t truly embracing the cross.

I’ve only acted as Mary Magdelene at Easter time, but I promise you every. single. performance. was marked by hysterical tears that were not of an acting skill. I remember a dress rehearsal where the director had stopped the run and I couldn’t stop wailing. Embarrassed, I lay down about two stories in the air on the platform of the cross and let my heart brake. A friend was playing Jesus and wasn’t even in the makeup display of blood and wounds, yet the reality of what could’ve been seen that day hit me.

I know that every day presents it’s own challenges. I more often can relate to one of the other disciples or people who heard His message than either Mary or John. Yet my heart longs to be there with my Lord Jesus at the cross. To see what He did for me. To be reminded that when I signed up for this life of following Him, it’s unto the end. That making Him Lord doesn’t excuse me from taking up my own cross, but that to identify with Christ is to know Him more.

Let me leave you with this thought. In going through productions as Mary Magdalene, my absolute favorite part was when Jesus appeared to me out of the empty tomb!!! Those who follow Him to the cross may feel the greatest sorrows at times, but they also experience the greatest joys of His resurrection!

Happy Easter! May you embrace the cross of Christ! :-)

One Hot Mess

There are things in life that you can prepare yourself to embrace. For instance, I know that every time we leave our house and get off of the dirt road onto the cobblestone road, I will be shaken back and forth in the car. I brace myself for this. I can’t always prepare for things like the man walking down the cobblestone road carrying what looks like a dead body which ends up being an upside down mannequin legs. Yes, that happened yesterday and caught me by surprise!

Along with Mr. Malagasy legs, we received some news about a family situation that we couldn’t have prepared for. We prayed and things seem to have resolved thankfully, but in the moment you receive bad news, you aren’t always prepared .

Yesterday, we were prepared to go visit this nearby tourist area where they have animals, mainly reptiles. There are hundreds of crocodiles there in various ponds for their various sizes. There are all kinds and sizes of chameleons and you can even find lemurs! We were lucky enough to see 5 sifika type lemurs. They are so neat and come close if you feed them ripe guavas from the surrounding trees. I was a bit hesitant to feed them because they reach out and grab the fruit from your hands, but I successfully fed them and I was glad that I did.

What I was unprepared for was divinely meeting about 15 young Malagasy adults. It was obvious from our passing by these young people that they were quite friendly. They greeted us and were laughing and having a good time. The only Malagasy word I caught was Facebook (that counts right?! ;) ). When we were about to exit the park, we both felt strongly that we were to interact further with them and invite them to the young adult services we are working with. When we asked if they were university students, they were quick to inform us that they were in fact artists :-) We shared how we just noticed they were young adults and we were working with university age students and wanted to invite them to a Christian meeting. They quickly cut Stephen off and pointed to the only two males in the group and said, “but they are gay”. Stephen replied, “that’s ok, Jesus loves gay people”. Then the conversations began. They invited us to sit down with them while they indulged in liquor mixed with cokes, juices, and we drank water :) For a moment a few of them tested us with several questions and in their Malagasy mindsets, they wanted to know what KIND of Christians we were. We shared that we had relationship with Jesus and that it wasn’t about being religious, but pursuing Him with all aspects of our lives. They were curious and kept refilling our water cups while offering us to share their food that came. We talked about all of their arts of singing, performing, designing and of course the ever so interesting dance moves our brother displayed for us.

I LOVE my generation and I see such similarities in the “youth culture” around the world. These particular Malagasy 20-somethings were obviously wealthy, well clothed and all portrayed different drastic fashion statements which varies from the youth I’ve met so far. My heart broke as I heard some stories of theirs. Normally I wouldn’t feel awkward and out of place talking to other 20 somethings, but with the language barrier, I found myself smiling and making eye contact as if I understood and would wait for Stephen’s sometimes translations. Here were young people so freely opening their hearts, time, fellowship and food with us without any hesitation. I hoped we were just as welcoming and loving.

As we were excusing ourselves and about to depart this crocodile farm, they decided they would leave with their new “America” friends as they said…not AmericaN. Turns out that they had all crammed in one vehicle and asked if we drive a few of them up to the main road. So we obliged hoping for future conversations with a few of them. In came two very strong personality girls and the two young men. Conversations and questions of America, self-worth, and finding God filled our car as we winded down the bumpy red dirt road to the cement tarmac. Hunger filled their eyes and I pray that they saw a glimpse that Jesus’ love is real. As we dropped them off at a local pizza place, we got out of the car and said goodbyes and I exchanged Facebook information with one of the girls.

We drove away and our hearts broke more for our generation. More for the lost. More for the hurting. More for the ones who don’t feel welcome in the “church”. Ones who are desperate to find their identity in the One who created them, but don’t know how. I wasn’t prepared for meeting them, but I’m glad that on an afternoon date with my husband, that my paths crossed theirs. I pray we meet again and that I meet more like them in the days ahead. I want to find the orange dyed hair, skinny jean wearing, smoking, drinking, cussing, sinful young people and show them that Jesus is for them and has created them unique. That these “artists” were in fact created by the greatest Artist of all. That there is freedom from sin and destruction in their lives and love and acceptance in the love of Christ.

Sometimes my life is one hot mess. That day I’d only slept for a couple of hours. Even if I could speak French or Malagasy, I’m sure I would’ve forgotten that day. I couldn’t do much in that situation, but I could love. It would be easy to just look at their lives and say that they were a hot mess. It’s easy to judge, but harder to interact. The reality is that the church, or body of Christ at large can be one hot mess at times too. We don’t have it all together and often we’re so isolated from those in the world that we don’t even know how to say hi to a young gay guy showing off his dance moves. This shouldn’t be so. We are to be Jesus’ hands, feet, and voice in this earth. The gospel isn’t just words, but actions. We as “christians” are “little Christs”, Jesus’ only hope for His love to manifest in this world. May our hearts be broken for these ones. In the midst of everyone else’s agendas, may we have the agenda of Christ…”to seek and save that which was lost.”

Here is a paraphrase post I saw from speaker and author Christine Cain, who spoke at ORU last night…
“If a baby is brought out of the womb before it’s time, that baby has to be on life support for an extended period of time just to keep him or her alive. Likewise, the church in its origination was divinely designed to thrive in the womb of the world as we were connected to the umbilical cord of the Holy Spirit, giving us the life we needed. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line we as a church left the womb of the world where we were meant to flourish as salt and light, and now we have countless churches across the world who are simply on ‘life support’.”

Lord, help us get back in the womb.


I’m realizing how ridiculous most American idioms are and how even more ridiculous is my over usage of them. I had no idea that I used so many before until saying things to someone who’s first language isn’t English like “you already have a lot on your plate”….plate?! What am I talking about, food or responsibilities of life? Oy vey!

I also get this very strange accent while speaking English again to those who it’s not their first language. I’m aware of difficult words they might not understand and I try to convey concepts simply and slowly. I was raised by a Yankee father so I naturally speak quickly. I also try whenever possible to clearly pronounce my words as to not sound too okie;) I LOVE my roots, but unless I’m tired and I knowingly have an accent, I don’t like to be told I sound like an Oklahoman girl.

ANYWAY…This evening as Stephen and I were leaving a meeting with our young adults, we followed a young man who was with us back through the busy downtown square in rush hour traffic. There were cars parked at diagonals to the curb as well as on coming traffic. You also have the ever so clever bicyclists and motorcyclists weaving in and out of the cars. Then you have me, the white girl who also happened to be wearing white pants walking against the flow of traffic ;) Stephen was directly behind me keeping an eye on me and asked me a question. I turned to look at him as I replied and did so as I was still walking. “Oopsie!!!”, I exclaimed as I turned and almost collided with a cyclist. “Oopsie?! Did I just say that?!”, I thought to myself. This older man I’d almost got clobbered by was now inches from my face. He had a very distinguished face of dark leathery wrinkled smiles and said,”Oopsie!” back to me! Stephen, myself and the young man with us cracked up at this man’s repeating my words as if he understood what I had said.

Despite hilarious moments of the continual language challenges, I love how God can still communicate through me. Today I had the best ((and hottest)) translator help me speak to young adults. It’s fun to have your spouse translate for you. I loved sharing on sexual purity and God really gave us creativity on how to share and bring them to a place of understanding freedom in Christ. At the end we asked students to write any questions that they had about sexual purity down and that we would answer them in the weeks to come. As the brought forward their questions, they were challenged to cross a line of rope that we had symbolizing that they were not going to play games with the lines of compromise. They were each give a piece of rope to remind them of the message today.


I had to check the date as I typed this. Days roll over into days here. I seem to always know the day of the week, but often not the date. For right now, my life seems to revolve around what routine I can find verses dates to schedule my life by like it used to back home. It is the 8th of April today in case anyone was wondering.

Tonight I happened to be outside on the road outside our house in the moonlight. While I am often annoyed at the road because of the sounds of the factory just doors down, the squeaky rusted gate, or the diesel trucks on the gravel road, I appreciate that there is total darkness at night. I looked up tonight and saw the moon and the stars shining so brightly. It overwhelmed me with a deep sense of peace and tranquility. In the stillness, I felt the light from these far away objects brought a nostalgia I needed to feel.

Two and a half years ago, Stephen returned home from Thanksgiving break. I’d had a really difficult week while we were separated from personal issues and had been a strength to some family members. When I picked him up from the airport, I realized how fragile I was and began to cry. Once I brought him to his parent’s house, he opened his laptop and began to play a song for me. I wept and wept and felt God just heal my aching heart. Stephen ever so sweetly wrapped his left arm around my shoulder and just sat next to me as the song repeated.
Here are some lyrics below;

You should see the stars tonight
How they shimmer shine so bright
Against the black they look so white
Comin down from such a height
To reach me now

And how could such a thing
Shine its light on me
And make everything beautiful again

I remember being in bible school and reading Genesis 1. I can recall about to turn the page to see the remaining part of that chapter when verse 16 jumped out at me. “…He made the stars also”. I was struck by how BIG God was and how in all of His beautiful creations of calling forth light that He stopped and added some stars. Stars to reflect His light in a dark sky. Stars to shimmer and shine so bright as the lyrics to the song above state. Stars to remind us that even in the darkest times, it’ll be alright. Stars to shine down on us and remind us that our light is important and needed in the world we live in today.

We asked three young people to sing at our wedding whom Stephen and known since they were young and loved dearly. My parent’s had a beautiful song called, “There is Love” sung at their wedding and I’d always dreamed of using it at mine. I also wanted to incorporate “Stars”, the song above by David Crowder in there too. These talented friends much to my surprise combined these two songs for our communion song. As they sang we also lit two lanterns asking God to make us “burning and shining lamps” in our generation like the scripture says John the Baptist was. This is still my prayer today. The link below is a recording of the song at our wedding.


I Now Know WHY the Chicken Crossed the Road…

Earlier today we celebrated a missionary kid here who is about to graduate high school this summer from her boarding school in Kenya. It was a really sweet time to hear her parent’s share stories and view videos of her growing up. I sat there crying the whole time because clearly I can’t keep my tears back ever ((embarrassing))! I’ve gotten to spend time with this missionary girl the past 3 April breaks as I’ve been here to visit. She’s a lovely young lady and I’m excited to see all that God has in store. In her honor, Stephen and I REALLY ROUGHED it out today and ate Mexican food. I think that we ate enough for a month ;-) We’d been craving Mexican food and the salsa satisfied!!! Seriously though, we passed on dinner entirely tonight!

Tonight Stephen and I decided to go for a little walk. The sun was setting and we knew we had limited time to get out and back to our house. We live on a street that has a gated entrance. Once we got outside the gate and rounded the corner of the intersecting street, we saw three tiny kids. There were two boys around 5 years of age or so and a girl who might have been 3. Their giggles could be heard before they appeared. They began to call out to us and laugh even more heartily. I laughed too and wanted to snatch the little girl in my arms. Her tiny skirt and mis matching layer clothes were too cute! They were unsupervised so that kind of broke my heart as it was dusk time and they were on the side of the road. Stephen commented how much I love kids and come alive. It’s true—I just adore how children are children no matter what country and culture they belong to. I imagine that’s what makes “child like faith” so universal and applicable.

We walked a bit further and saw two women chasing a chicken across the road. I clinched Stephen’s hand tightly and recoiled at the sight of this squawking chicken! I did NOT want to see this thing beheaded in front of my eyes…which is another blog I’ll have to write another time. I darted to the opposite side of the street as I then heard silence from the flapping animals….OK! I’m glad they’re having a great dinner and all…but I’ve never seen a chicken crossing the road for it’s dear life!

Translation Please

I met Stephen on a night when he came to speak to ORU missionaries for their week of training for summer trips. I’m currently wearing the blue shirt that I was wearing that night I met Stephen :) It’s funny how us females remember these kinds of things! I realize most of you reading this probably know the story about the hysterically sobbing girl on the front row (me!) and how he thought I was married. What you may not know is that previous to Stephen preaching, he acted out a hilarious skit with his best friend Kevin. Together the two of them pretended to be in a scenario overseas where Kevin played an American preaching in an African church and Stephen played an African translator. I literally had tears I was laughing so hard! Most of our American idioms don’t translate well and chaos can ensue in translation. Examples are, “Where I come from it’s raining cats and dog?” turns out to be “Where our brother comes from, small rodents are falling from the skies.” “If one person gets on fire for God, then other people get on fire too” equals “If one man brings fire to the church, the whole church goes up in flames!” “Shoot yourself in the foot” is “this man he got out a gun and shot his foot”.

This can be funny and equally challenging especially if you aren’t used to communicating cross culturally. Yesterday Stephen preached two services with a young Malagasy man that he’s worked with the past couple of years. His sermon was based on 2 Kings 13 with Elisha and King Joash. In short, we had a handmade bow and arrows for visual aid. Things were entertaining at times when the emphasis was placed on the bow and arrow or when Stephen made culturally relevant jokes and the congregation laughed. However if there was no translation made, it would’ve been quite crazy!

It just made me laugh and think about how many things that if they are not communicated properly give way to a lot of misunderstandings. Sometimes I sit here wondering what tomorrow will bring even though I know Jesus told us that today has enough to think about and not to worry. It’s comforting to me to know that God knows the end from the beginning. That He’s not scrambling trying to figure out what will happen next. He is at peace and still on the throne. What does get off sometimes is when we don’t read His word and we allow other things or people dictate what His word says. We have a choice to choose Him and to choose life everyday, but He’s the only one who can rightly translate the world around us and speak a word of peace to our hearts. There is no confusion in Him. No mixed signs of what He could be saying to us. He leads us as sons and daughters by the peace of His word and witness of His spirit. It’s not always easy, but it is always right when we know His word. He is infinite and while we could never fully comprehend Him, He speaks to us as His children and desires to guide us into His truth.

Make New Friends but Keep the Old

“Make new friends, but keep the old. Some are silver and the others gold.
A circle is round, it has no end. That’s how long I want to be your friend. “

Who knew this age old song that I sung in Girl Scouts years ago would bring me to tears one day! HA! (I cry too much)

I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for the friends that God has put into my life. I have worked with, lived near, served alongside, attended church with some of the greatest people ever! As I’ve moved cities 6 times in the past 6 years, I’m grateful that distance hasn’t separated me from those I love to be in the company of.

Today my heart is thankful, but also sad. I was very grateful for a visit with two new friends here in Madagascar and some of their kids today. One woman is from Switzerland and the other from The Netherlands. Both are basically next door neighbors and have moved to Madagascar this past year for their husbands’ jobs and are doing ministry. Both ladies’ husbands work with different piloting mission organizations that fly missionaries over Madagascar either by planes or helicopters! They are incredible organizations and a huge blessing especially when traveling by road here is not easy or possible at times. Both have reached out in little ways this past week and one brought me a pineapple while I didn’t feel well :-) I love the kindness of their hearts, their love for Jesus, and the sacrifice these families have made to leave their homes and be here. They are incredible moms and it’s inspiring to watch them juggle their littles in a new place.

While I LOVE playing with these cute kids andI really enjoy making new friends with their moms, it also makes me miss my friends back home. I really love and am so grateful for the friends in my life. I got to text back and forth with 3 friends tonight and FaceTime my baby brother for the first timer and tell my mom Happy Birthday at work. Wow—am I ever thankful for technology?!?! Thank you Jesus for all things “i” and “face” ((iMessage,FaceTime, iPhones, Facebook)). I appreciate relationships like one of my closest friends has 3 boys and a baby girl on the way and while we’ve never even lived in the same city, she’s so consistent in prayer and love in my life. I love how several other friends have moved all over or remained close to me even with my move(S). It’s so amazing that no matter what season of life we’re in, God gives us relationships to nurture, challenge, love on and mature us.

I’m a very relational person and people make my heart happy! It was very difficult to move so far away from home and not be in a close large community like I’ve been in every other time I’ve moved. I went to a huge school growing up, attending a large church and basically don’t know a stranger. I thrive on meeting new people and interacting with others. I’m thankful that despite language barriers, age differences, and cultural challenges, that there are some great smiling faces here that I’m getting to know better. I know that for some people, social media is more negative than positive, but I’m more thankful than ever for it. While I understand priorities in life should come before Facebook and such, I love seeing pictures of friend’s lives, hearing their hearts, praying for them through online interactions. It makes the times when I am face to face or digitally on FaceTime that much sweeter. It makes the lifetime relationships not miss a beat when I feel like we’re able to be in contact often. To all of you who make me smile, challenge me, and encourage me via social media—thank you!

Relationships are what you make them to be. I’m thankful that I’ve had the privilege to live in amazing places with amazing people, serve in one of the best churches for years back home, be connected to other great ministries, and experience laughter and tears with some incredible people.

If you’ve made it this far through my blog today, thanks for being a friend. Thanks for investing love and encouragement in my life and thank you for being you! You make life fun and inspire me to have people like you in my life! A simple text to say hello, a pineapple, a coffee goes a long way and warms my heart!