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Breath Grace

Learning to live and love in another culture is learning to breath grace. This phrase – breath grace – is so lovely. Deep breath; Jesus provides the breath and the grace. Go ahead – do it! Close your eyes and take a deep breath in; as you inhale just imagine the grace of Jesus flowing into you.

In order to breath grace into another culture, you have to have that grace from and of Jesus flowing through you. Remembering that it’s not right, it’s not wrong…it’s just different. After fours weeks of focusing on how different our lives will be in South Africa and how we must search ourselves, we feel weary yet excited. We are encouraged and ready. We are energized and preparing to prepare even more. A plan to be formed and worked. Yet we know that this plan HAS to be God’s plan.

Today in the beauty of the North Carolina mountains, we took some time away from it all and focused on breathing grace. Walking along the trail with the cool breeze blowing through the trees – slippery from the morning rains; leaves covering the ground – yet the trail was there. No doubt which way to go – follow the path head of you.
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Beautiful colors – created by the Creator. How creative and artistic is the Creator! Red, orange, and yellow fluttering to the ground around us.

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The path was long and curvy – often switching back on itself. Breathing grace along the way; blessed that the path wasn’t straight up; each curve or switchback allow us to use less energy and to breath deeper. The overhanging limbs protecting us from the occasional rain drop.

Halfway through – a little treasure found; easy to overlook in its hiding place between the rocks and roots of a giant tree. BELIEVE – there it is – The grace!

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Believe –

    *in who we are in Christ

    *that He has a wonderful plan that is better than we can even imagine

    *our Jehovah Jireh will provide all of our provisions in His timing

    *that His grace is sufficient – all we really need! 

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Continue walking upward – breathing in grace that He provides. The reminders so evident throughout His creation if we just look. Sometimes the path seems dark and dreary then as we get over the top the world opens up and a picture is painted. Vibrant, beautiful, amazing colors everywhere – even with the rain and the clouds; the creation praises the Creator with its magnificence.

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And at the top – breath grace! Remembering that no matter how curvy or steep the path seems to be, we are just called to be obedient and follow it. Thankful that He is writing His story with us and painting our picture with vibrant colors. Breath grace – that’s really all we need.

In the waiting….

I have been waiting to blog for the last few months – thinking…I need to wait until something is happening to write a blog. After all, right now we are waiting to GO! Waiting on partnerships to come through. Waiting on God’s timing. Waiting! Waiting! Waiting!

But…wow! The things that we have learned in the waiting.

1. Waiting is HARD! I don’t mean that it is a little hard. I mean it is gut-wrenching, crying for no reason, what do we do hard. I have been known to say something silly like…”I would rather go through six more years of seminary than one year of support raising and waiting.” Is that statement really true…NO!!I loved our years on the seminary campus. I love the people that are like family to us now. But those were soul-baring, out-of-my comfort zone years. But this past year…..well, I think you get the picture!

2. It is a small, small world! Are you singing that song now? I know that you are! It is a small world. We speak at churches, Sunday school classes, life-groups, with individuals and families…almost everywhere we go we hear stories about mission trips to Africa or missionaries that someone knows. It is a small world…but we will probably not meet a missionary serving in Kenya while we are in South Africa. We might…God does do some crazy things sometimes! While we probably do not know that African friend and probably will not work alongside them on a daily basis, we still love hearing about God’s mission. No, our travel will not be postponed because of the Ebola outbreak (at least, not right now). That is West Africa. We are going to South Africa. On the other hand, we have met friends who have been to Cape Town – even several who have been to Fish Hoek. We have met South Africans who now live in Atlanta. They are encouraging to us. They are willing to help us make contact with South Africans before we are even there. Friends are being formed even right now!!

3. Friendships are so important! Okay, this is not really new knowledge. However, it has definitely been reinforced. During this time of waiting, we have been able to reconnect with friends that we know will always be supportive of our crazy life. They are even willing to help us during this time of crazy waiting. They walk alongside us. Listen to our crying. Laugh at craziness. Tell others about our craziness…and even make our craziness sound normal and exciting!

4. God is good all the time…and all the time God is good! Everyone that we have talked to about raising support and this time of waiting has said, “You will be surprised….” We are surprised! We are amazed…at who God has planned for our team, at how God has worked out partnerships, at how He has shown us His love and provisions.

5. Prayer is the most important part of waiting! While we go through hills and valleys during this time, we stand firm in the knowledge that He is listening. Even when it seems that He has been silent for a long time…longer than we want…when we feel discouragement, we know that going to God is prayer is the answer. Prayer opens the door. It is the comfort zone when we are so far out of our comfort zone we don’t even know where our comfort zone is anymore! Prayer shows us who and how God is going to place on our team! So, you should know, if God plans on you to be on our team…if you have felt even the slightest tug toward partnering with us…we are praying for you! You should probably just go ahead and step into the deep with us because God isn’t going to let go :)

I admit that I might be a little stubborn. Sometimes it takes a while for me to finally realized what God is trying to teach me during a certain season. This season of waiting has been no different. Just when I think that I have learned the lesson…I somehow forget. Thankfully, God is a patient and gentle and full of grace. He leads me back…to the exact spot that He wants me.

Now this isn’t a complete list. But in the waiting, these are the top 5 on my heart at the moment. Here’s a few additions that I may – or may not – expand on at a later date:
*I love to dance
*Selling everything you own – except for what you can fit into two suitcases and a carry-on – is fun!
*Spiritual warfare is real! Okay, this is another thing that I know but have been reminded of in the
waiting.
*When summer is winter and winter is summer, it doesn’t really matter when you start your homeschool
year. It is going to be confusing that first year – and maybe for the rest of your life :)
*I don’t really hate healthcare as much as I thought I did.
*I love to paint
*The beach is my happy place. Again, something that I have known but all the beautiful pics of Fish Hoek
beach have reminded me.

view from the Team House in SA

When the Enemy is at Work (1467-1493)

Sometimes it is so evident that Satan is at work. Those times when the finances going out are greater than the ones coming in. Then the bake sale to raise money for the youth trip is a total bust. Times when you cry until it feels like you are dehydrated. The Man can’t focus to on his packing then his plane gets delayed. It’s raining. Lil Sis gets sick. As you drive away from the airport, one of the lights on the dash for the car comes on and you don’t know what it means…….

During those times when you know that Satan is at work….it is during those times that you know that the Lord has something amazing in His plans. And His plans will defeat any schemes of the devil.

Despite all those things that could discourage, I continue to count; knowing that His blessings are abundant even during – or maybe especially during – times like these!

1467. warm blankets to snuggle under on the coldest night that we have experienced in 4 years
1468. this pile delivered and stacked on the back porch

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1469. the Man coming to lunch with us
1470. times when you cry so hard that you feel emptied; the Lord fills that emptiness
1471. financial frustrations that are teaching me to completely depend on our Jehovah Jireh
1472. friends who are willing to taxi the girls around to different events
1473. that same friend who listens with her heart and prays diligently
1474. these boxes of donations and gifts that have to be packed into two suitcases without exceeding the airline weight limits

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1475. getting all of that into two suitcases
1476. a wonderful ticket agent that lets one suitcase that weighed 50.5 lbs through without the Man having to re-arrange everything
1477. hugs that warm the heart
1478. Lil Sis’ attempt to go with the Man to South Africa

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1479. banana chocolate chip bread that Lil Sis has become an expert at making
1480. jolly rancher lollipops

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1481. rainy weather that causes us to slow down and hang out
1482. the Man making all his connections even when he has to sprint through one airport
1483. Lil Sis’ fever, sore throat, and body aches resolving without the need for a doctor’s visit
1484. Middle Sis’ unselfish moments of agreement to stay home with Lil Sis
1485. learning to allow others to help; even when my pride gets in the way
1486. the Man arriving safely in South Africa
1487. this view that the team is getting to see each day

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1488. the first picture of the Man in South Africa; enjoying his time at one of the Extreme Response Christmas parties
1489. family and friend support while it’s just me and the girls
1490. church family who helps me with the car; fills up the anti-freeze and the oil; no problems!
1491. Prayers from friends and family
1492. fun painting with the youth

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1493. the bake sale that did not raise any money for the youth but provided snacks for several different events

The Week it was SO Cold (1437-1460)

It is cold in Georgia. I know that my more northern friends are laughing – particularly the ones in Canada, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska. But I have adjusted to the mild and short southern Louisiana winters. This cold front – with temperatures in the 20-30’s – I was not prepared for.

My weatherman prediction – this is going to be a very, very cold winter. The key for me is simple. While the weather is cold, the only way to survive is the warmth of Jesus.

Counting keeps Him there – in the forefront; never far away; providing blessing. So I continue counting; even when I use the Joy Dare scavenger hunt to find the blessings….

3 gifts eaten
1437. chocolate left over from trick or treaters that did not come to our little home in the woods
1438. chicken noodle soup that is easy on a queasy stomach
1439. dinner on the stove to be eaten when the hunters come in after dark
1440. Fall
1441. Following God’s path and amazing gifts
1442. Small country churches
1443. Unexpected mommy’s grand adventures
1444. A bushel of apple
1445. Yummy treats made with that bushel of apples
1446. these two working in the kitchen together to make a yummy treat

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1447. 11 year old girls who sometimes want to be teenagers and sometimes want to play silly little girl games all day
1448. The flexibility that allows sleep overs on school nights
1448. Jesus Calling

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1449. Hot, soapy dishwater that soothes the ache
1450. women and girls dedicated to serving and blessing others during a VN weekend
1451. Big Sis being reminded that God is enough
1452. tears that wipe the soul clean and bring forgiveness and healing
1453. terrifying images on the news of the devastation in the Philippines.
1454. prayers for our partners in Manila and throughout
1455. safe travel of them in and out of the most devastated area of Bohol
1456. fun night with Memaw and Pop at the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular

1457. Pop’s healing after surgery
1458. prayers being lifted up from our home to a home that is struggling to remain whole
1459. Billy Graham’s last sermon; The Cross
1460. conversations with friends who question the cross but want to understand after watching
1461. an accidentally late night phone call from a far away friend that did the heart good
1462. a warm wood burning stove on a cold day
1463. learning – daily – to count on the Lord for all our provisions
1464. almond joy creamer :)

1464.laying awake late in the night/early in the morning with worry; turning the worry and anxiety over to the Lord; even when I have to do it daily, I know He will carry me
1465. fall gone; winter is here!!
1466. the meaning of “yada”




Joyful gifts (1413-1436)

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1413. A multicultural worship service that speaks to my heart
1414. Flag bearers carrying 80+ flags to represent the 80 + different countries

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1415. Prayers of healing over Pop before his surgery

1416. A little glimpse of heaven as people sing songs of praise in several different languages
1417. Hard eucharisteo: Lil Sis’ rash that won’t go away
1418. An afternoon of major cleaning in Lil Sis’ room
1419. Hard eucharisteo: a hard conversation about getting rid of our little feline friends because of the rash
1420. Crazy nagging headache that lingers all day
1421. Our Great Physician, Pop’s successful surgery
1422. Dinner with Extreme Response friends

1423. New heaters for cold nights
1424. A car battery dieing, still under warranty
1425. The Man and Big Sis’ time in the woods
1426. time to help some old friends pack and move

1427. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5

1428. Kids in a circle taking a moment to encourage each other.
1429. Figuring out that Lil Sis’ rash probably isn’t from our feline friends and isn’t contagious and will go away on its own
1430. Accepting that the same rash will linger for 6-8 weeks and we can only treat the symptoms
1431. The love between Lil Sis and her feline friends
1432. CHOCOLATE! (I know that I have probably listed it before, but no one can be too grateful for the gift of chocolate!)
1433. porch sitting under colorful trees

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1434. two boxes full of Christmas items for the Man to take to the Extreme Response Christmas parties in South Africa
1435. decluttering
1436. the beginning of a month when people really count their blessing; 28 days of Thanksgiving!

And when people count – when we take the time to recognize ALL OF THE AMAZING GIFTS that we are given daily, we are happier; more content; and more easily recognize even more gifts that He gives us each and every day!




Day-to-day Counting (1390-1412)

Counting in the everyday. This is where we find the most awesome gifts.

1390. gifts re-read; Revelation, this time reading out loud with the girls and the Man
1391. re-reading gifts 1-1389; such an amazing blessing
1392. the third player in this game

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1393. spontaneous, homeschool flexibility that allows for a RAD day; Read-All-Day Day!
1394. a group of youth gathered together to learned worship songs.
1395. the sound of those same voices lifted high to their Savior
1396. a musically talented dad who is willing to spend time teaching these musically talented children
1397. the end of volleyball season

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1398. beef stew in the crockpot on a fall day in Georgia

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1399. a fall day in Georgia

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1400. itchy rash on Lil Sis that we can’t get rid of
1401. warm socks on a cool day
1402. a lower electric bill
1403. silly girls surrounding my kitchen table

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1404. the imagination of girls
1405. a dishwasher; we haven’t had a dishwasher in four years so this one is extra-special :)
1406. a man with a chainsaw

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1407. a blessed conversation with a wonderful woman at church regarding the need to expand outside the walls to become more multi-racial and multi-cultural
1408. knowing that their are some of the same heart and mind; taking Him to every tribe, tongue, and nation
1409. His amazing creation; even the smallest things

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1410. the hugs of sweet kids in children’s church
1411. extra blankets on the bed each night
1412. plans for several paint parties in the upcoming weeks

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