live well, love God, serve others

These photos have nothing to do with the topic. They're from our recent mini vacation our family took together.

Lord and King

As I see the news and look at the condition of the world around me my heart breaks. I see Sodom and Gomorrah, Nineveh, and Babylon! Sin rules and reigns. Vile evil is called normal and even celebrated! Corruptions runs rampant through governments oppressing their people and fostering a culture of further corruption and abuse. It’s staggering to see how steep the slippery slope of self destruction has become!

Such an encouraging way to start a blog post. I know many of you are feeling the same way. I’ve had people as me where God is in all of this, and I know they’re not the only ones asking. I’m journaling through Isaiah, and I hope that this passage I’m meditating on today would be a blessing and an encouragement to you as it is to me.

Isaiah 11:1-5 There shall come forth a shoot from the stop of Jessie, a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what His eyes see, or decide disputes by what His ears hear, but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His waist, and faithfulness the belt of His loins.

This passage is prophesying the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not his birth, but His coming to rule and reign on the earth as King. I encourage you to read the entire chapter. I know you’ll be crying with me, “Even so come, Lord Jesus!!”

There will come a day when Jesus Christ will come down and rule physically as King of the earth in Jerusalem. Can you imagine a ruler Who rules with complete wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and true fear of the Lord??!! He will not rule and judge as man does, with his eyes and ears. He will rule purely and justly because He sees the intentions of man’s heart and knows all things before they even happen. I am so ready for this day!



The Voice that spoke all things into existence will rule the earth. The Breath that breathed life into man will take the life of the wicked. All things will be held together by His righteousness and controlled by His faithfulness. And those of us who know Jesus Christ as Savior and have a relationship with Him will be there to live under this King!! I don’t know about you, but my heart longs to experience this.

This future vision is not yet a reality in our world, but until then it can be a reality in our hearts and lives. If you have received Christ as Savior the same Spirit of God in this passage dwells in you, in me! We have the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord living inside of us!!! We only have to surrender ourselves to Him and let Him have control. This gives me so much joy and confidence!!! When the Spirit of God controls our hearts our delight is in the fear of the Lord. Are you letting the Spirit of God control your heart, or are you determined to live your own way? God gives us the choice every day. How can you surrender your own will to the Spirit of God in you today? In what areas of life do you need wisdom and understanding? Where do you need counsel? This is what the Spirit offers us if we will only listen to Him.

As children of God Jesus Christ is already our King, whether we surrender to Him or not. As King he is Lord of our lives. He is a perfect Lord and king. He does not make bad judgements in our lives. He sees our hearts and our innermost being. He intimately knows all that we say and do. He judges us with righteousness and equity through the redemption and forgiveness we have in Him. We live every day under the rule of a King who cares for us, knows us better than we know ourselves, and judges us with His righteousness. We don’t deserve it, but we can rest in it. Are you letting Jesus rule and reign in your life? Is He truly Lord? If He is it will be evidenced in the way you live your life. If He is Lord and King we will be willingly and joyfully living in obedience and submission to Him. We no longer choose to control our own lives, but live for Him.

The Voice that spoke all that exists into existence still speaks today. It speaks through the Word of God with power and authority and it whispers to our hearts with love and tenderness. The Breath that first breathed life into man breaths life into our hearts every day. It gives us physical life and spiritual life! Are you listening to the Voice of God? Are you in His Word every day and obeying it? Are you listening to His whispers and answering them? This is a relationship. How is your relationship with the Lord? Are you allowing the Breath of Life to consume you or are you choosing a life of destruction? We get to choose to listen to this Voice and breathe this Breath.

At the end of the day, despite all the chaos that surrounds us, we have a Lord King who loves us. He rules in our hearts every day the same way He will someday rule this earth. If we are allowing Him to rule in our hearts they long for that someday, but rest knowing that same King is with us every day. That gives us peace, hope, and confidence as we live today.


What We Learn about God's Blessings from Job

Life has been crazy for us lately! Since we returned to Zambia we have been running full speed ahead and we have had constant illness in our family. Our first couple weeks back we were concerned that L had appendicitis. It turned out that her kidneys weren’t functioning properly. Thankfully I think she is recovered from that. We are keeping her hydrated!! Then I ended up with mumps, of all things! Then J had malaria, then Jamie and L had malaria, then C and I ended up with malaria… Zambia has welcomed us back thoroughly!! We are ready for some relief physically and spiritually. It’s been exhausting.

At the same time God has been working on our personal lives, family, and ministry in exciting ways. God has been pushing me to grow in personal ways that are both uncomfortable and exciting. He’s been revealing Himself to me in new ways, and growing me spiritually and as a person. My last few posts have been a break from what I’m learning through scripture and how God is working on me in other areas of my life. There is still more on that, but we will close up Job first.

I finished up journaling through Job. Really, it’s an incredible book and I encourage you to journal through it on your own. Let God speak to you through His word in real and exciting ways. Instead of going through specific passages I’m going to close out Job by explaining what is going on in the book and what I learned through it.

I'm choosing photos of my greatest blessings.

I finished up journaling through Job. Really, it’s an incredible book and I encourage you to journal through it on your own. Let God speak to you through His word in real and exciting ways. Instead of going through specific passages I’m going to close out Job by explaining what is going on in the book and what I learned through it.

Scripture gives a glimpse into heaven as Satan comes before God and the result of that meeting is that Satan is allowed freedom to destroy Job in order to get him to curse God, he just can’t touch Job’s body. In one fell swoop Satan takes Job’s crops, livestock, children, and servants. All in one day.

Job’s reaction is deep mourning and grief, but complete dependence on and respect for God. So, Satan again approaches God’s throne and receives permission to torment Job’s body without taking his life. Job immediately breaks out in terrible sores all over his body and suffers in physical agony without relief. Still Job doesn’t curse God.

Three of Job’s friends come to mourn with him. They start out wonderfully just entering into Job’s mourning and being present with him. It’s when they start to open their mouths that things go from bad to worse. All of them accuse Job of harboring hidden sin in his life and believe that these disasters are punishment from God for those hidden sins.

Over and over Job examines his heart before God and comes up with nothing. He stands confidently in his innocence before God. All he asks is an audience before God to prove his innocence. This further angers his friends and the redouble their efforts to convince him that he is under judgement from God for his sins and that now he is dishonoring God in his desires. Things get very heated and nasty quick.

The end of the book is a humdinger!! Finally God steps in. God addresses Job and Job immediately responds in repentance and fear. He had a right view of God and of himself. Then God turns to Jobs friends. He tells them that everything they said about Him was wrong and everything Job said was right. Talk about vindication. Then it gets even better. God instructs Job’s friends to gather a huge sacrifice, bring it before Job, offer it to God, and ask Job to pray for their forgiveness. God tells them that He will not accept their sacrifice and forgive them until Job prays for them.

What a spot to be in! How many of us would say, “See!!! I told you so! I told you I was right! And you came to me in my distress and treated me horribly!! I’m not praying for you. You don’t deserve it.” I think that is what our first reactions would be. But not Job. God was testing him yet again, and Job proved his character and integrity. He prayed for his friends and God heard him and accepted his prayers.

As I was journaling through and seeing over and over again how Job upheld his innocence I was convicted. Could I do that? Surely I could come up with a whole list of sins that God could justly destroy me for. But Job consistently stood before God innocent. This testing was not a result of his sins. He didn’t know that, and his friends didn’t know that. All they saw was the circumstances, not the insight into the heavenly meetings we are blessed to see. From their experience, the only time disaster befell people was when they were being punished for their sins, so that must be what is happening here. How could it be anything else?

How do I comfort people? How do I confront people? Do I do it only through the lens of my experience, or do I take the whole council of God? Do I actually listen to the other person or go in with my preconceived ideas of the situation? Am I careful to make sure that everything I am saying about God is true? Another convicting moment!! I don’t want to be like Job’s friends.

Am I loving those who hurt me? Am I surrendering myself to the Lord and loving others even when it is hard? Do I love the way God loves? Convicting again!!

In the very last verses we see God restore Job. He is blessed with ten more children. His livestock and crops are doubled. His fortune is doubled. All that was taken from him was restored doubled and the family and friends who left him come back. And Job keeps his integrity. His testimony remains the same. He stays faithful to God, his family, and using all that he has to honor and glorify God.

It really sounds like a fairytale. I’m surprised that Disney has not made a movie about it yet. And my human nature looks at the world around me and says that this is not possible today. These fairytales don’t happen. So I ask, why not? If it was possible then, why isn’t it possible now? I think it is!

The most wonderful blessings this side of Heaven I could ever want!

From the beginning of the book when we meet Job what do we hear about him? The very first things we learn are the most important. He had a right relationship with God and lived right before Him. Every other aspect of his life flowed out of that. He obviously made wise decisions with his family and finances. And God blessed it, because his heart was in the right place.

When we truly examine our hearts what do we find? Are we in a right relationship with God? Are we living right before Him? Is He the most important thing in our universe? Can God bless our lives because our heart is in the right place? Sadly, for most of us the answer is no. We are harboring sin in our hearts. We are not living the way God calls us to live. God promises to meet all of our needs and He faithfully keeps that promise. God chooses to bless us in spite of ourselves and our sin just because He is a loving and kind God. But think of what God could do in us and through us if our hearts and lives were completely dedicated to Him!! The possibilities are limitless.

It all starts in our hearts. And it all stays in our hearts. It’s all about the heart. Not about the success. Not about the wealth. Not about the prestige. It’s all about the heart and it always will be. God is taking me through a process where He has been pruning my heart weeding out the hidden sins that are there. And He is taking me on a journey that demands me to keep my mind and heart firmly focused on Him and His glory, not my self. It has not been easy and it’s only going to get harder. But I have determined in my heart to be right with God and walk right before Him. Every day, moment by moment. I want to keep my sins confessed quickly and forgiven right away. And I want to be growing every day closer and closer to Him. I am praying for His blessings, and I am praying that they will reveal His glory, not my own. And the biggest blessing is being so close to Him. It’s all for Him. It’s all about Him. Always.

Glorifying God with our Bodies: Supplements

So far, as I’ve been sharing with you about my wellness journey we have talked about the importance of glorifying God with this beautiful, unique body He has given us. We’ve discussed exercise and how important it is to our bodies. We’ve discussed the importance of properly feeding our bodies so they function at their best. And we are doing all of this for God’s glory so we can serve Him to our fullest capacity.

Today I want to discuss natural supplements with you. Not medications, but supplements. The reality is that it is very difficult for us to be getting all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals our bodies need through our diet. Even if you ate all natural foods you would have to eat extreme amounts of those foods to meet your dietary needs. That is one reason why it is so important to eat as healthy as possible. The more nutrients your body can absorb through food the better it is for you.


There have been a few supplements that have really helped me. I encourage you to talk to your doctor about this, especially if you are on medications for a health condition. You can even ask for blood work to tell you where you are nutritionally deficient so you can start eating foods to boost those areas or take supplements. I want to share what has been working for me and why. Understand that this is just for me, my body is unique just as yours is. What my body needs and works for me may not be the same for you. But I hope that this gets you thinking about it for your health and helps you work though how to best support your body nutritionally.

Since my back injury I’ve been trying to stick to a strict anti-inflammatory diet. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll mention it again. It’s called the Wahls Protocol. I encourage you to buy the book and give it a read. It’s fascinating. But I try to eat a very clean natural diet. I’ve cut out the inflammatories in my diet and I’m eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties. That means I’ve cut out all processed foods, added sugars, dairy, and grains from my diet.


My greatest concern is cutting out the calcium and vitamin D my body needs that I was getting from dairy. There are many vegetables that are rich in calcium and vitamin D. I make sure that I am getting good servings of those as often as I can. But living here in Zambia I can’t always find those vegetables, so I’ve started taking calcium and vitamin D in supplement form. I’ve seen an improvement in my body as I’ve started supplementing those important vitamins and minerals.

I’ve also started taking anti-inflammatories in supplement form. I take a turmeric pill every day to fight inflammation. Turmeric is the spice that gives Indian curry it’s yellow color and strong flavor. Turmeric’s main active ingredient is curcumin which has strong anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants. When you are buying your turmeric make sure they have black pepper in them which helps your blood stream absorb the curcumin. There is also a great recipe for Golden Milk that I love. Just click on this link.



Another way I am supplementing my wellness routine is through essential oils. I’ve always believed in trying homeopathic remedies first. I would much rather put something natural into my body than chemicals that have harmful side effects. When I was first diagnosed with my back injury the doctor put me on very strong medications. I took them at first with the goal of getting on my diet and exercise regiment and going off the medications. The medications made me feel awful. They helped with my back but left a metallic taste in my mouth and made me terribly restless and unable to sleep. I started making a lavender tea using lavender blossoms and it counteracted the side effects of the medication!

Then a dear friend gifted me a bunch of essential oils to try to help with my back. I was so excited! They were another way to naturally support my wellness. I started using them and saw huge improvement with my back. I started using them in other areas of my life and with my family and we have been amazed at how well they work. They are all natural, have no negative side effects, and help to keep us healthy. We are hooked!!

If you would like more information on the essential oils I have a Facebook page and Instagram account about them. They are both called Zambiasmithessentials. Start following those for all the information! I share daily.


Because I have started eating such a healthy diet I don’t require much supplementation in many areas. But I will tell you that between my diet, exercise, and supplements I have seen a drastic improvement in my health! I live 95% pain free without any medications! I have energy that I haven’t had in years. My immune system is stronger and so I am staying healthier. I have been blessed to never struggle with my weight, but I am naturally maintaining a healthy weight. I am stronger than I have ever been. I’m even getting my pre-baby abs back, which I thought I would never see again! Hello four babies in four years! The benefits of this lifestyle have far outweighed the indulgences I had before. When I cheat in any of these areas my body responds quickly and reminds me that it enjoys being healthy.

I hope that these last few blog posts have been helpful and encouraging to you. I’m going to keep saying it. We only have one body. It has to last us for however long God has us here on this earth. How we treat our body is part of our testimony. Illnesses come that we have no control over. As I type this I’m battling the mumps!! But there are things that we can control about our bodies. We can control what we put into them, how we treat them, and how we take care of them. And we do this so that we are the fittest we can be to be able to serve our loving Creator to the best of our ability.



Our bodies are not our own. They were bought with a price: the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t just our soul, but our whole person that Christ died for. Let’s put just as much work in caring for our bodies as we do for our souls.

If you have any questions about any of this please contact me. There is a contact page on this blog. I would be happy to help you in any way I can!


A bicycle safari at Nsobe Game Camp

Glorifying God With Fitness

For the last few weeks I’ve been discussing with you this journey towards wellness I’ve been on. I encourage you to go back and read my last couple of posts about it. In the first post I just discussed the importance of how we treat our bodies and care for ourselves. I truly believe that how we take care of our bodies is part of our spiritual testimony. In the next post I discussed that we are what we eat. And our diets should bring glory to God, benefit our health, and show that we care about this one body God has given us.

Today I want to discuss fitness, exercise. We’ve all seen the meme on Facebook that says, “If you see me running you better run too” with the person being chased by a dinosaur or something. We all work hard throughout the day and many times exercise is the last thing we want to think about. We stumble out of bed still exhausted in the mornings and can’t imagine how we could possibly think about getting up earlier just to work out. I know. I get it. I’ve been there many many times. To be honest, I’m there right now, and my back is yelling at me to get it together.


One of our many family hikes

We have already looked at how our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit of God if you have received Jesus as your personal Savior. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, or have any questions about Jesus and the gift He offers you, contact me. I’d love to talk about it. But, our bodies are His temple. We are to do everything to the glory of God. I believe our physical fitness is important to God. There are always going to be health issues that creep in that are out of our control. That is part of living in a sin cursed world. But there are aspects that God has given us control over and we need to use that control for the benefit of our bodies and the glory of God.

We all know that exercise is important to our overall health. That is why there are so many exercise programs out there. There is a gym on every street corner. Running clubs in every town. You can take your pick of programs from the internet. It’s easily accessible, and so really our only excuse is ourselves.


Physical activity helps all the systems of our bodies function together properly. It helps us get rid of the excess fat and toxins that are in our bodies. It makes every part of our bodies stronger from our brains, hearts, digestive systems, skeletal systems, to our skin and hair. It even stimulates hormones that nourish our brain cells. It works in sync with what our bodies consume to make our bodies function at their proper capacity. It actually gives you energy and boosts your mood. I was a physical trainer at a gym for a while and I loved seeing the effects exercise and a proper diet made in the lives of my ladies; not only physically but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well.

I’m going to keep most of this pretty general and simple, but hopefully it will be helpful and encourage you to start working on your physical health.

Just like with anything else, when you are first starting out it might be difficult. If you have serious health issues work with your doctor to decide which exercises are best for you. If you are just out of shape but don’t know where to start, hire a trainer at a gym just to get you started or do research online. You can join a running club in your town. They love helping people get started and get healthy. Talk to friends who are fit and ask them to help you get started.


Swimming and cliff jumping at Lake Kasihba

Get a partner! A partner will help you show up and keep you accountable. And it’s always more fun with a friend. Some of my deepest friendships have been made running down the road together. They started on the road and continued for life. You can encourage each other when you’re down and rejoice when you have a victory. There is much said in scripture about friendship and it’s all true about fitness friends too. (Just don’t go out for ice cream together after…)

Your exercise should consist of these main areas:



Can't let the kids have all the fun!


Stretching lengthens the muscles and tendons in our bodies. It increases our flexibility that protects our joints and muscles. You can find various stretching exercises online. Never stretch so far that it is painful, just slightly uncomfortable. The more often you stretch the more flexible you will become and you will find yourself reaching farther and farther.


Balance training helps you regain a sense of where things are in space, helps prevent injury and also helps with your posture. Once again you can find various exercises online. Yoga is a great exercise for balance.


I hope to be killing it on the rope swing when I'm 60.


If you never do strength training your body will think those muscle cells are not important and will not devote resources to them. When strength training (lifting weights, resistance bands, push-ups, crunches, Pilates) you are actually slightly damaging our muscles. You body is designed to repair those cells within twenty-four hours. Your muscles will rebuild and will be able to tolerate more work. That is why it is important to start slowly and take a day of rest between strength training days. If you’re not familiar with strength training the best place to start would be with a trainer at a gym who can help you correctly execute the exercises with the proper amount of weight.


Cardio workouts are important for the strength and health of your heart and lungs. Different people work at different levels at cardio. If you huff and puff walking to your mailbox don’t expect to get up and run five miles. Once again start out slowly. If you’re not used to moving or have a health condition such as asthma, COPD, or heart disease work with your doctor. if starting slowly means you walk down the hallway a few times start there. If it means a walk around the block. Swimming is a wonderful cardio activity because there is no impact on the joints. A water aerobics class is a great option as well. Bike riding is another great activity that has no impact on your joints. Find something that you enjoy and go for it.

Swimming with friends is the best.

I don’t exercise because I want to live longer. For me to live is Christ, to die is gain. But I want to live this life to it’s fullest. I want to be strong so that I can serve the Lord and my family to the best of my ability. I want to enjoy this life the Lord has given me, to feel good, to have energy, and to be as healthy as possible.

Who is joining me? Who is going to get up off their comfy couches, put on their shoes and enjoy a nice walk outside? Who is going to make it a goal this year to touch their toes? Who is going to work on strengthening those muscles so that they are stronger to serve others? Let’s do this for God’s glory and not our own. Let’s make it a part of our relationship with Him. He gave us our bodies. He loves our bodies. Let’s take care of them!


Passion Fruit (Granadilla) from the vine outside my kitchen

Glorifying God with our Diet

1 Corinthians 10:31

 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

For those of you who know me, you know I have been blessed to always have an active lifestyle. Growing up I was encouraged to play sports. I played almost every sport in school except basketball. I played on the church softball team as soon as I was old enough. I hiked and backpacked in the mountains with my family. I loved riding horses every chance I got. I did a lot of indoor rock climbing and outdoor repelling. As I got older I started mountain biking, snowboarding, skydiving, the list goes on.


Fresh goat milk from our goat and gluten free, sugar free banana bread made with eggs and bananas from our farm

When the doctor first showed me the MRI scan of my back I was completely shocked. I was sure it wasn’t my scan. He explained that the disc in my spine had deteriorated and was bulging. He told me to immediately stop all activities that jarred my back. I had been training for my first marathon. He said no running, horse back riding, cycling… I couldn’t even drive in the car on these roads here in Zambia. I asked him what my options for treatment were and he told me that most people just live on pain meds. That was NOT an option for me. Then he told me that a few people were disciplined to manage it through diet and exercise. That was it! I could do that! He did prescribe me pain meds, an anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxer because my back was in such bad shape. I took everything except the pain meds for the first week as I researched and started my new lifestyle.

I immediately got online and started researching my injury and how to handle it through diet and exercise. Most pain in our bodies is cause by inflammation. There is healthy inflammation that helps protect an injury as it heals. But in my case, my injury will never heal and so the inflammation is just causing long term pain. So, how do I get rid of this inflammation? Not by being on meds long term.


Working on our test garden together.

Through my research I found quite a few anti-inflammatory diets. I looked thoroughly into all of them and they all have their own merits and work for different causes of inflammation. The one that I settled on is called The Wahl’s Protocol. The main idea of the diet is to remove the inflammatories from our diets and eat the foods that have anti-inflammatory effects on our bodies. Basically, you are using food as medicine.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we have lived for so long on an unhealthy diet that many people have serious health issues that could have been avoided if they had just eaten the food that their bodies really needed. In any store bought, processed food there are preservatives, dyes, and other chemicals that are not at all good for our bodies. In fact, they don’t just do damage to your body, but also prevent your body for functioning properly. The meats and dairy we grew up eating from the store were (and some still are) filled with hormones and antibiotics that affect our bodies in serious ways. The excess sugars and salt sources hidden in our foods have caused long term diseases.


Hartebeest stew! Homemade bone broth, wild hartebeest meat, rosemary and sage grown in the garden.

It’s no surprise that everyone has high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid issues, weight struggles, skin problems… the list could go on and on. But we have become ignorant as a society. We no longer know what healthy food is or how to prepare it. I was talking to someone one time about eating healthy and they told me that they had cleaned up their diet by switching from peanut butter sandwiches to lunch meat sandwiches. And they were very serious.

We have also become lazy in the area of health as a society. We will work ruthless hours at work, but we eat fast food constantly and take all the meds prescribed to counteract the unhealthy affects of the fast food on our bodies. Then we are too tired to exercise and have to take the meds to counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

I hope what I’m saying is making sense. Here is what I’m getting at. We only have one body! 1 Corinthians 6:19 is a verse many Christians know well. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Now, in scripture this verse is referring to sexual immorality. Keeping your body and spirit sexually pure. But can it not also apply to how we take care of our bodies in every other way? We are the TEMPLE of the Spirit of the Living God. How well are we taking care of our temple?


Our beloved free range chickens that give us fresh eggs every morning.

I encourage you to think more about what you are feeding your temple. Do some research on what healthy food is and how it affects our bodies. Do research on how food can be used as medication. Talk to your doctors about how you can use your diet to help improve your medical conditions. Let’s be as disciplined and passionate about what we are putting in our bodies as we are about our careers, ministries, and hobbies. And let’s do it to better equip us to serve, love, and glorify God with this one body He has blessed us with.

Here are some links to resources of plans that I have used and recipe websites that I enjoy.

The Wahl's Protocol, The Whole 30, 

Paleo Running Momma, The Minimalist Baker

Clean Eating

Why Christians Should Care About Our Physical Health

If you’ve been following my blog for very long (or instagram or facebook) you know that I injured my back and broke my tailbone a couple of years ago in a horse back riding accident. Since my diagnosis I have been focused on managing my pain through diet, exercise, and essential oils. I’m on a journey of wellness for my body and my spirit that will help me grow closer to the Lord and serve Him better. I’m not a medical expert and I don’t claim to be one. I am just looking at the world around me, doing research, looking at scripture, and trying to live out what I’m finding. I would like to take you on this journey with me.

I’m sure many of us have the same story in many ways. Growing up I ate a lot of processed foods. I think when we were kids these processed foods were newer to the market and were designed to make life easier and more productive, but little was known about the long term effects the chemicals, sugars, and preservatives would have on our health. Looking around us today we see so many people with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and many other diet related diseases.


I remember my grandmother cleaning with vinegar. It smelled awful and I always hated being there when she mopped the floors with it. In my home growing up we never cleaned with vinegar. We had window cleaner, floor cleaner, kitchen cleaners, bathroom cleaners, all from the store and designed to kill germs and make everything smell fresh. Many of these cleaners were relatively new, designed to make life easier and more productive, but, once again, little was know about the long term effects these chemicals would have on our health. And now cancer, depression, ADHD, and many other disorders are taking over our lives.

I grew up on the cutting edge of technology. I remember buying our first TV with a remote control. No more having to get up and turn the channel for dad!! VHS players. We could watch our movies at home now whenever we wanted. Cable TV brought us a seeming plethora of channels. Atari and Nintendo took video games out of the arcade and into our living rooms. Home computers, the internet… All designed to make life more productive and easier. But look where we are now. No one is outside anymore. Children don’t know how to play. And entire generation doesn’t know how to communicate face to face. This sedentary lifestyle has led to a pandemic of obesity like has never been seen before. Which leads to a culture of fad dieting, nutritional supplements, and unending workout programs.

When we look around we are seeing record numbers of depression, anxiety, auto-immune disorders, cancers, obesity, psychological disorders… the list could go on and on. Why? When everything is designed for our “health”, why is everyone so unhealthy?


Beyond culturally let’s look at this biblically. The Lord has only given us one body. It’s all we have to get through this life with. No trade-ins and no do-overs. This one body is it.

God designed each and every one of us with a unique purpose for His glory. He has an amazing plan for our lives that He created us to fulfill. Much of the time when we think of this we think of it spiritually. In order to live out God’s purpose and plan for my life my heart must be in right relationship with Him. Very true! Inarguably true!

But what about our bodies? Our one and only body. Many of us don’t have the energy, strength, or health to get us through the day to day duties of life. We stagger out of bed sore and under-rested in the mornings. We live off caffeine and sugar to get the energy we need to pull through the afternoons. Just going to work and taking care of the house is almost more than we can handle. We just don’t have the energy to exercise or volunteer at church or in our communities.


I’m on this journey to wellness, not just because I don’t want to live in chronic pain, but because I want to be the fittest I can be spiritually and physically to be able to serve my Savior to the fullest of my abilities.

We all know 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” It’s probably the first verse that comes to mind when we think about our eating. We know that it’s a command from God, but we figure that if we just say a blessing over our food we are eating to God’s glory. How often do we think about whether what we are putting into our bodies is glorifying to God or not?

What about our physical exercise? It’s easy to use 1 Timothy 4:8 to excuse our lack of exercise. It says, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Exercise is of “some value”. As long as I’m spiritually fit my body doesn’t matter. We would never say that, but much of the time we live it. We all desire to be healthy, but many of us are unwilling to do what it takes.

For the next few blog posts I would like to continue sharing with you in more detail what I believe about our health and why. I will not be advocating any one diet or workout plan. But I want to challenge you to evaluate your health, physically and spiritually, and determine if you are fit to serve the Lord in the way’s He has called you to serve Him.


Does God Cause Suffering?

“God does not cause suffering, but He allows it for our good.” Many of us have heard this explanation for the difficult times in our lives or the terrible things that happen in this world. But is this explanation biblical?What better place to examine this than the life of Job?

Last time we looked at Satan entering the presence of the Lord. While Satan was speaking with God, God brought up Job. God, in his omniscience, knew that while Satan had been roaming the earth he had been watching Job. It is at this time that God initiates His plan for Job’s life.


Earlier we had looked at the blessings of Job. Let’s recap. Job had a good relationship with God, a great marriage, a close knit family, and a successful business. A pretty amazing life. Key to all of this was his relationship with God. It was the foundation to every other aspect of his life and now we are about to see that very foundation being tested in ways we could never imagine.

Let’s look at Job 1:8-12 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away form evil?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

Once again we see this incredible introduction of Job. “None like him.” “Blameless and upright.” “Fears God and turns away from evil.” Job has quite a reputation before God and man. God knows what is about to happen. He has always known. He knows the depths of suffering He is about to put Job through. Why didn’t God stop it? Why did He bring up Job in the first place? He could have said nothing about Job to Satan and none of this would have ever happened. Is God just mean and sadistic; looking for ways to hurt His faithful followers?

First let’s look at what we see about God from these verses. God is continuing His dialog with Satan and mentions Job. Satan points out that Job has every reason to be upright and fear God because God has placed a hedge of protection around Job and everything he possesses. What does that mean?

Well, God, in His omnipotence (complete power), can choose at any time to place a hedge of protection around whomever He chooses. We pray for such things when people travel, are in dangerous situations, or about to go into surgery. A hedge of protection. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? God had chosen to place this supernatural protection around Job so that Satan and his minions could not harm him… until now.



Then Satan tells God to stretch out His hand and touch all Job has. This would imply that there are times when God purposefully and intentionally causes destruction in our lives. He doesn’t just lift the hedge of protection and let happen what will. He stretches out His hand and causes it. Why? Why would a loving God do such a thing?

John Piper, in his book, Life as a Vapor: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Faith, has a chapter entitled: Why I Do Not Say, “God Did Not Cause the Calamity, But He Can Use it for Good”. In it he says, “Let us beware. We spare God the burden of His sovereignty and lose our only hope. God is not like a firefighter who gets calls to show up at calamities when the damage is already happening. He is more like a surgeon who plans the cutting he must do and plans it for good purposes. Without the confidence that God rules over the beginning of our troubles, it is hard to believe that He could rule over their end. If we deny God His power and wisdom to govern the arrival of our pain, why should we think we can trust Him with its departure?”


I encourage you to get the book and read the entire chapter. Read the entire book. It’s a good one, but in it he explains this concept so brilliantly. If our God is not in control over the cause of our suffering how can He be in control over the end? The thought that he doesn’t cause suffering is not biblical. It makes us feel better because it’s difficult for us to reconcile the idea that our loving Heavenly Father would intentionally cause us pain. But God doesn’t fit into our comfort zones. He’s so much bigger and we have to accept Him as He is.

As John Piper points out such thinking also undermines the very hope it’s intended to bring. It implies that God lets go of His control for a period of time to let evil wreak it’s havoc and then He swoops in and cleans it up. Our God never relinquishes His control over anything. He always has it in His hands. And in His sovereignty and power He chooses, like a surgeon, where to cut and how to heal.


I would much rather know that my Great Physician is cutting strategically into my life for my good than believe that he has lost control. His plans for me are far better than Satan’s, and I will take the Lord’s destruction over Satan’s any day.

We will be looking further into this as we get into the sufferings of Job and his reactions to them. What an amazing glimpse into the working of God in our lives. I’m so thankful that He is in control over every aspect of my life.


The Lion of Judah vs the roaming lion

Does God allow sin into His presence? I have heard it said from the pulpit growing up that He does not. I have been taught that there is no sin in heaven and that is why people who have not been saved from their sins can not go there. Yet, Moses met God and stood in His presence. And this next passage from Job had me thinking more about it.

In Job 1:6-7 we get a glimpse into a moment in the presence of God. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, ‘From where have you come?’ Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’”


Okay, so this got me to thinking. Satan, the lord of sin himself, is standing before God in His presence. God is not defiled from it. He has allowed sin into His presence. We assume this was in heaven. The Lord is present everywhere, omnipresent, so this could have taken place anywhere. Later in chapter two we see a similar account and it just says that Satan was in the presence of the Lord as the “sons of God”, believed to be angels, presented themselves to the Lord. Satan presented himself also. I find it interesting that at this time of presentation Satan has access to the Lord.


This brought on another thought. Satan is not omnipresent. He may desire to become God, but he lives in submission to the God Almighty. When Satan is presenting himself before God he is not on the earth. His demons roam the earth, but they are limited as well. Scripture tells us that only 1/3 of the angels rebelled against God with Satan and were cast out of heaven. That means for every one demon there are two angels to combat them. It brought to mind hearing people rebuke Satan, but he’s probably not even there to rebuke. Whatever evil is happening is at his will, but not his direct doing. Jesus knew when Satan was near, but we do not. This thought gave me so much confidence. My God is almighty and always with me. I have nothing to fear.


God knew that Satan had been watching Job. God is also all knowing, omniscient. And in His omniscience He knew all about Job and his faithfulness. Satan knows that God is omniscient, but he doesn’t know what God knows. The Holy Spirit of God does not council Satan as He does His children. The Holy Spirit reveals the truth of God to my heart and guides and directs me in the will of God and His purposes for me. Through the Holy Spirit I know more of the mind of God than Satan does.


In the following verses Satan has to have permission from God to afflict Job. He can not do anything outside of God’s knowledge or permissive will. Satan is still only an angel. God will always be God. The Lord knows my heart, the intimate details of my life, and nothing happens to me without it being completely in His will. What peace this brings. When my life feels out of control it is just out of my control, not God’s.

Satan is limited, God is limitless. Satan presents himself before God, God rules over all. Satan roams the earth, the earth is God’s footstool. Satan knows what he sees, God sees all. We have an all powerful, all knowing, loving, faithful Creator who sees us and His plans for us are always for our good. We may have a roaring lion roaming bout seeking our destruction. But we also have the Lion of Judah watching over us.


Job did not know about this little conversation like we do. Yet he trusted his God. We don’t know what is going on behind the scenes, but like Job, we can trust our God.


The Blessings of Job

It’s been a while. Life has been crazy with all this traveling our family has been doing. Here are our new family photos to break up this post a bit. But in the midst of all the crazy I’ve been journaling through the book of Job. As always It’s taking me a while. This is such a rich book that we can all relate to. We all experience loss in our lives and no one experienced more than Job. There is so much wisdom and truth that we can apply to our own lives. I thought I would share with you what God has been showing to me.

Let’s start at the beginning. Job chapter one. The very first verse introduces us to Job, “There was a man in the land of Uz those name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away rom evil.” What an introduction!! Wow, I would love my reputation before man and God to be like Job. From these verses we learn that Job had an ongoing, faithful relationship with God. Later we will hear directly from God, himself, what He thinks of Job that only reinforces this relationship. God knows Job and Job knows God. I could spend pages on just that one verse, but there is more.

We go on to learn that Job has ten children, seven sons and three daughters. We don’t meet Job’s wife in this part of the book, but we know that he had one wife. Given how God introduces him I would imagine that he was a loving, devoted, faithful husband and that their ten children were evidence of a healthy, satisfying, thriving, happy marriage. Those of us who are happily married know what a blessing and joy in life our marriages are. Those of us who are not know how we long for a good marriage.

In verses four and five we see that Job’s family was tight knit. Every night of the week they rotated dinners at each of the brother’s houses. All the siblings would eat together. I don’t think we would be far off to assume that on many nights Job and his wife joined them as well. And when the week had ended Job would sacrifice burnt offerings on behalf of his children just in case they sinned during the week. I think that this implies that Job was an involved father who knew what was going on in the lives of his children. He was hands on in raising them and developed relationships with them.

We also see that Job was a man of great wealth. Given the introduction we read in verse one we know that he was a hard working and honest businessman. He was “blameless and upright” and “the greatest of all the people of the east”. He must have loved what he did and was obviously very good at it. He provided well for his family and his employees, and he gave to God.

This sounds like a pretty charmed life. Let’s sum up. Job had a good relationship with God, a great marriage, a close knit family, and a successful business. A life we would all admire and want. It’s important for us to see these things because they will play an important roll in the rest of the story. That is why God is sharing them with us. But I think the key is not found in all that Job had but in why he had it. It’s all right there in his introduction. Let’s read it again, “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” Can God say this about me? How about you?

Many times we want the blessings of God, but we don’t live in a way to receive those blessings. We live for this life and our pleasure and not for the glory of God, yet we expect God to grant us all the blessings. It doesn’t work that way. God is very clear about this. He tell us in 1 John 5:14, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith.”

Are we loving each other, our siblings in Christ? Truly loving? Are we in each other’s lives helping when it’s not convenient, holding each other accountable toward a deeper relationship with God, encouraging each other to step out in faithful obedience to God. In order to do this we must be living in loving, faith-filled obedience to the commands God has given us. Through this we overcome the world instead of live for it. Through this we live so that God can bless our lives. We don’t get the blessings without loving God with all our hearts, living obediently to His commands, and living by faith and not by sight.

So, what are we going to do? Let’s dig into a deeper relationship with God. Let’s invest in our marriages and love our spouses selflessly. Let’s be involved in our children’s lives. Let’s be honest and faithful in our work and use our resources in a God honoring way. Let’s love each other as siblings in Christ, and live so that we are worthy of the blessings God has for us. It’s easier said than done, but still completely doable in the strength that God provides.

Deliberately Consistent

These are two very important words that I have always struggled to live out in my life. Some people, like my amazing husband, thrive on structure, routine, schedules, lists, and organization. As a result they live extremely productive lives. I am not one of those people. I have always been the free spirit. I love spontaneity. I have always had high hopes for structure, routine, and personal discipline, but I’ve never been able to sustain it for very long. When I was in school I did what I had to do to get my assignments done on time. I was always at work when I needed to be, but I dreaded it. Since I’ve been able to stay home with my kids I’ve struggled to provide structure in my children’s lives. They ate when they were hungry, slept when they were tired, and we played a lot. But there was no schedule.


When Lorelei was born I stopped working to stay home with her. I loved being a stay-at-home mommy. But I enjoyed it so much that I forgot to take care of our house, get errands done, or pretty much anything else productive for life other than keeping my baby alive and enjoying her. My loving husband started making me to do lists and leaving them on his pillow so I would see them first thing every morning. I have to admit that lists have always been a difficult thing for me too. Half the time I lose them and can’t remember what was on them. So I appreciated the lists Jamie would make for me because it would remind me of the important things I needed to get done that day. Pretty sad, I know, but there has to be someone out there who can relate.

I’ve tried calendars, planners, notifications, alarms, notes around the house. You name it, I have probably tried it… for a few days. Then I forget about it. When I finally remember months have gone by and it no longer seems helpful so I give up feeling like a failure. If I don’t forget about it there is a bit of rebellion in me that fights hard against routine and I eventually choose to ignore the planner. It feels really good. The fact that I’ve been able to homeschool four kids is an absolute miracle. The only area I have ever been deliberately consistent in my life is my relationship with the Lord, and that is only by His grace.


A while back I read an article on an online homeschool group. It was about creating family rhythms. It was written by someone a lot like me and what they said made a lot of sense and made me feel like less of a failure. She was saying that, like me, she struggled to stick to a schedule, so instead she decided to create a rhythm. There are no set times. There is no set order. There is a prioritized list of things that need to be accomplished, but they can be done at any time and those less important can be put to the next day. This helped me so much!!

But I have learned there are some things in life we must be deliberate and consistent about. Loving our family is one of them. When my kids were little it was easy to communicate love to them because they weren’t mature enough to identify when their love languages weren’t being spoken. As they are getting older I’m finding it harder. Not harder to love them, but harder to communicate it consistently in ways they will understand. When Jamie and I were first married it was easy to consistently communicate his love languages but as the kids have come along and life has gotten more and more busy it has become more difficult. As a result I have realized that I am not loving my family as they need to be loved. I’m not choosing to not love them, I am just oblivious to the fact that I’m not. I’m getting by, but I’m not doing my best.

While we are a bit less busy here in the U.S. we have decided as a family to start identifying some of our personal weaknesses and start working to improve them. This is where the Lord convicted me; deliberately, consistently loving my family. So… I bought another planner. I know, I know. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. But it’s not really the same thing. I customized this for identifying areas that I need to improve in loving each member of our family, specific prayer needs in our relationships, then writing out goals and a plan of action for each person. It has a calendar for each month because I am wanting to revise it each month, but I’m not too sure how much I’ll actually be using the calendar. It will at least remind me when the new months starts. I hope.

I sat down with each family member and discussed honestly with them each of these areas. I am trying to be more deliberate and consistent in meeting each of their love needs. I’m really hoping that as I do it for the next few months it’ll become more of a habit in my relationships with them and I won’t need the planner. I haven’t lost it yet, so that’s a good sign. I haven’t completely forgotten about it yet either. Nor have I rebelled against it, it’s too important.


So, you can pray for me. This is not something that comes naturally to me, being deliberate and consistent… or loving others. It hurt to have to admit that I’m not good at loving my family. But I know that this is what is needed and I’m not doing it just me, but for those I love most. That makes it easier to work hard at it.

What about you? What areas is God working on you? How can you be more deliberate and consistent in your daily life? What kind of rhythms do you need to establish? What kind of planner do you need to customize? What difficult things do you need to do? Let’s work on these together. Feel free to share with me what you are working on. I would love to pray for and encourage you in it.

Doing my bible study at riding lessons

Baskets of Broken Bread

We all know that life is exhausting. There are memes all over facebook, commercials for sleep aids, mattresses that help us get our best night sleep, energy drinks to keep us going, now coffee with twice the caffeine. People promote self-care, yoga, meditation, nature walking, and other means of keeping ourselves nurtured in the midst of a crazy life. When we stop to think about it the majority of this business is not for ourselves. We work hard at our job to provide for our families. We are running the kids to and fro for their various activities. We keep the house clean and provide meals for our families. And then we serve others outside our homes. We help that friend in need, serve in the church, volunteer our time at other ministries.


In the midst of all that we reach the point were we need a break. We need to escape the hustle and bustle to reenergize, refocus, and rest. Just a bit of time for ourselves. It could be waking up in the morning early for a few moments of quiet before the kids take over your day. It could be going for that run by yourself to destress. Maybe you just want that hour before bed to read a book you’ve been wanting to read. Or you just need a nap, just an hour is all you’re asking for. It could even be a trip you’ve been planning for months.

The monkey is eating the last of the gluten free cookies I had baked for J for our family camping trip.

But then something interrupts this much needed, much looked forward to time. The kids wake up early. The pastor calls and needs you to do one more thing and you don’t get that run in. One of the kids are sick before bed and you’re up taking care of them. Your friend calls needing help and interrupts your nap. The car breaks down and messes up your vacation plans. We respond with grumpy, frustrated, irritation because our expectations and needs are not being met. Life happens…

My discipleship group at youth camp

As I was journaling in Luke this morning I got to the passage where Jesus feeds the five thousand. It’s a very popular story in children’s ministry and pastors preach on it all the time, so I’m sure you know it well. But let me remind you what is going on.


In Luke chapter nine Jesus sends out his freshly called twelve apostles. He gives them the power to heal and cast out demons, gives them very strict instructions, and sends them into the neighboring villages to preach the gospel and heal. Not an easy task. They saw God do amazing things through them in that time, but if you’ve ever gone on a short-term missions trip you know that even though you are excited about what you saw you are also exhausted when you get back home. Serving others is hard work.

Delicious bread to go with our soup for dinner

Upon their return to Jesus after their trip they are excited and start telling him everything they experienced. Jesus takes them to a lonely little town, they assume to rest. They are looking forward to some time of restoration and private time with Jesus. But, Jesus knows that when they get there thousands of needy people would meet them. They see the people coming with dread in their hearts. “Please no, we just did this! Can’t we just get a break?!” They assume that Jesus knows their need of rest and will turn the people away, but to their frustrated surprise Jesus welcomes them and starts preaching and healing. What can they do? So with tired, grumbling spirits they hop in and start serving.


They come up with a plan to shorten the meeting. The people need to eat. There’s nothing to eat. Send them away to be fed. They’re tired, frustrated, probably overwhelmed, and then Jesus turns to them and asks them to do the impossible. He tells them to feed all these people. In their exhaustion they’ve forgotten all the miracles and healings God had just performed through them. All they see is their exhaustion, unmet desires, a large crowd, two fish, and five loaves. They have forgotten Who they are with.

There are always chores to be done

So many times our circumstances and emotions cloud our vision. They warp our perspective of who we are in Christ and who our God is. We forget all God has done in us, through us, and for us. We forget that He empowers us to do His will. He has given us everything we need to live the life He has called us to and do what He is asking us to do. In our exhaustion we just see the here and now and our unmet desires. We feel like it should be our turn. We’ve given and given. It’s our turn to receive.


Jesus knew, when he welcomed thousands of needy people, that He was about to remind them of Who He was and what He could do. That even in the business and exhaustion of life He is more than capable to abundantly meet our needs and satisfy our deepest longings. He demonstrated that to them when He miraculously broke the bread and fed all those people. What a gentle, yet obvious reminder to the apostles.

When your truck gets stuck on the way to a speaking engagement

I find it poetic that at the end of the meal the apostles gathered up the leftovers and there were twelve baskets of broken pieces. As they were carrying those baskets of bread, it was like they were carrying their hearts, broken over their selfish frustration, back to the Savior for healing and restoration.


I feel this way so often. And the Lord always binds me back up, lovingly forgives me, and restores me every time. He doesn’t always give me what I want, but what I need. He gently reveals the sinful selfishness in my heart, forgives it, and changes me. And then He satisfies me completely.


Life is busy and exhausting. But let’s not forget Who we are with. Don’t let the business crowd Him out. Make time to get in His Word. Spend time in prayer with Him. Make it a priority and find ways to make it work with your busy schedule. He is the One Who abundantly meets our needs and satisfies our deepest longings.

Mandy, Daughter of God

I’ve never been a big fan of history. I know, I know. I can hear the gasps as I write. In school growing up history was a dreaded subject of reading required pages and memorizing meaningless date after meaningless date. At least, meaningless to me at the time. As I’ve grown older and realized that history is so much more than parroting dates I’ve come to love and enjoy it. There, have I redeemed myself?


One aspect of history that I think almost everyone enjoys is their personal genealogy. There is something inspiring about learning your personal history. For example, I am related to Pocahontas. My cousin researched our family history and found out we are her direct descendants. Pretty cool! Even finding out there is something scandalous in your history is exciting. Why? Because it is personal. It is your history. It is part of your story. It makes history come alive.

I’m journaling through Luke… slowly, of course. I’ve finally reached chapter four. It walks us through the genealogy Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus. I’ve always been slightly intrigued by genealogies in the Bible mostly because of the interesting names. Every once in a while there is something random and interesting hidden among the names. This time I started reading through the funny names and expected it to stop at David, but it didn’t. It went on to Abraham. Then to Noah. And ended with “Adam, the son of God.”


It suddenly struck me that I have the same genealogy as Joseph from Noah on down to “Adam, the son of God.” I have the same family history as Joseph, and Noah. You do too. Every human being alive on planet Earth today shares the same family history. When I am reading the Old Testament accounts in the first nine chapters of Genesis I am reading my personal family history. I can point to those nine chapters of scripture with my African son and we share the same genetic history.

From Noah to Pocahontas I’m not too sure what went on, but I love that we have a God who is so personal that He put my family history, your family history, right at the beginning of His Word. Let me quote it for you…


Luke 4:36-38 “ the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of NOAH, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son fo ADAM, the son of GOD.”


Dive into Genesis and read about our family history. There is a lot to learn.

Stability Needed

Life for our family has been a bit… disorienting. We have loved staying with family and their generous hospitality. We have loved seeing friends and catching up with them. We have loved many aspects of being in the U.S. But at the same time we are away from home. You know how near the end of vacation you've have had a fun time, but you’re ready for your own bed and your own home? That’s how we are feeling. Our day to day has been exciting, but very random. After many weeks of random we are feeling the draw of a needed family rhythm.

At home in Zambia we have our family rhythm. The kids know what our routine is on school days and it brings stability and peace… most of the time. At home they know the rules and expectations and they are free to enjoy life within them. At home they have their own spaces to get away by themselves and think, rest, or decompress.


Since we have been here in the U.S. we are missing a lot of that. At first it was fun and exciting, but now I’m seeing it’s starting to wear on us as a family. We have had no routine. The kids are unsure of the rules and expectations in other people’s houses. They don’t have their own space and so are unable to escape when it is needed. Emotions are running high. Tempers are flaring easily. Insecurities are taking over. Obedience has become difficult. Something needs to change.


Obviously our living situation will not change. For the next five months we will continue to live in other people’s houses away from home. But as a parents we have a responsibility to provide the stability our children need even in an unstable environment.

Step one: start “Alone Time”. What is “Alone Time”?? Most weeks, after family devotions, Jamie and I will take one child each for 20-40 minutes and spend time with just that child. The others go to bed and we get to take time focusing on that one on one time. We might play a game, watch youtube, bake, read a book, or just talk about what is on their hearts. The kids have really come to depend on this time with Jamie and me. They guard it jealously and look forward to it each week.


This has become an important tradition in our family. It is during this time the kids open their hearts to us privately and we get to listen to them, speak truth into their lives, and pray with them. We reinstated “Alone Time” this week, and already all the pent up emotions and frustrations are pouring forth. The kids have been needing this for a long time, and I’m glad we’ve started it back up again.

Step two: start school.

Most school days we start the morning with our “5 First Things”. It’s a list of five things the kids have to complete to get ready for their day. Once those are completed we start our “Morning Time”. We gather around the table for our bible lesson, character quality, read aloud, and depending on the day we do history, science, or grammar. It’s a routine start to our day that gets everyone on the same page. After that the kids do their own work on math, reading, and other subjects. It’s a great way for our family to have a regular rhythm that grounds and unites us.


This can be done anywhere! As long as we have a place to sit we can do our morning time and school work. I’m so thankful that I’m able to homeschool and for the stability it brings to our family.



Step three: stay “home” more. My children are still getting used to America. Being out all the time is overwhelming to them. Jamie and I grew up in America and have a foundational understanding of life and culture here. My children have not. This is as foreign to them in many ways as life and culture in Zambia would leave you feeling out of place.


Being with people all the time is exhausting to them. It’s been years since we have seen our family and friends here in the U.S. We have missed you all and look forward to catching up with you. We could be out every night of the week and still not be able to meet with everyone. We haven’t gone to that extreme, but we have been very busy. Once again, Jamie and I have history and memories with you that our children do not. As much as they love their family here in America they really don’t know them. Our friends are not their friends. They are with strangers all the time. Strangers who love them, but still strangers. If you put yourselves in their place you would see how stressful that would be for even the most extroverted of people.

Step four: Chores

I believe it is important for children to take responsibility for the care of their environment. It gives them a measure of control over what is happening around them, teaches them responsibility and good habits, and makes them a contributing member of the family.


No matter where we stay the kids can contribute to the household. They can wash their own laundry, keep their rooms clean, clean up after themselves, wash dishes, sweep floors, clean bathrooms… This week with the snow they’ve been shoveling the driveway and walkway. When we stay with other people it helps for them to understand our children’s need to work and encourage them to do their chores. Even giving them extra jobs that they can do around the house and yard to earn spending money is appreciated.


Overall we are truly enjoying our time here. We miss home, but as we focus on the blessings and the joys of being here we can better adapt and enjoy this time with you all. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for your patient understanding. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support. Thank you for sending us to Zambia where we have found a new home and ministry. And thank you for welcoming us back to America with open arms and hearts. We are deeply blessed.

Jesus the Scepter Rules Over the Chaos in our Hearts and Lives

Our family is living in a whirlwind right now. Honestly, there is no way to express it in a way that anyone would understand unless they’ve gone through it. Last week at this time I was at home chasing muddy dogs and kids out of the house, cleaning and packing for our upcoming trip to the U.S., frustrated because electricity was out… again. I was frustrated because the internet wasn’t working and after the fourth try that email still hadn’t gone through. I was trying to figure out what we were going to eat for dinner, because I didn’t buy anything because we were leaving, and there wasn’t really any food at the store when I went. I was trying to help take care of my mom because she wasn’t well. Other than the packing and a sick mom it was pretty much normal life for us. It was hot, humid, dirty, muddy, chaotic, and… home. My bed, my kitchen, my animals, my home.


This week I am sitting in my Aunt’s historical cottage beautifully decorated for Christmas, frost on the grass outside, a fire in the fireplace, a kitchen filled with food, and Grandpa living in the back apartment. When we turn on our computers emails fly in and out and upload before we can blink. Out the window are gorgeous historic buildings and homes all decorated in their best for the Holiday. Cars, the likes of which I could never imagine seeing in mass, driving orderly and safely down the smoothy paved street. They stop at the school crossing to let the kids safely pass as they walk in the crossing and not all over the place. The stores are filed with anything you could ever need and a lot more than you could ever want.


I feel like I’m living in a dream. If I close my eyes too long I’ll wake up in my kitchen in Zambia hot and sweaty. As much as it sounds like a nice dream, in some ways it’s not. It’s extremely overwhelming to see such affluence all around you. And to see people taking such affluence and blessing for granted. To go to the store and have 20 different options of one item when you’re used to only having two makes your brain short circuit. Who needs so many different choices of breakfast cereal? I mean, seriously??!!


It honestly is system overload. We are used to seeing dire poverty every day. We are used to experiencing long power outages due to an incompetent electrical system. We are used to dirty water and malaria and lack. Lack of everything. Our brains and emotions can’t process the stark differences. All of us, especially the kids. Jamie and I at least remember growing up in this affluence, but my kids don’t.


We arrived in the U.S. on Thursday. By Sunday we were all overwhelmed and overloaded. We were frazzled mentally and emotionally. We have been trying to light our Advent candles every Sunday to keep us focused on Christ. I’m so thankful we have kept it up. This Sunday we sat round the table especially frazzled after sitting through a beautiful yet completely overwhelming Christmas program. It started with Frosty and elves running through the auditorium throwing candy canes with loud music and lights and so much activity on stage it made our heads spin. At the same time it was festive and fun and everyone around us was thoroughly enjoying it. It fit the culture here beautifully and God used it to bring people to Him through salvation. But this isn’t our culture anymore and… whew!!!


We reviewed our first candle. Jesus the seed. He is the Seed of Promise fulfilling the prophecies of old, and the Seed of our Salvation. We reviewed our second candle. Jesus the Star. He is the Light of the World and shines His light through us into a world of darkness. Then we lit our third candle. Jesus the Scepter. He is the King of our hearts and rules and reigns in our lives. Someday He will return and rule in reign as King on Earth.


Wow! This was just what we needed. In the midst of our overwhelming insecurities during this transition Jesus is in control of our hearts, minds, and circumstances. We can rest knowing that He has us in His hand and has a perfect plan for us.


I know that all we need is time. Soon all of this will start to feel a bit more normal to us. But for now we will stand upon the foundation of our salvation offered through Jesus the Seed. We will live letting Jesus the Star shine through our hearts into the lives of those around us. And we will rest knowing that Jesus the Scepter is reigning over our lives with His perfect love and grace. This is why we celebrate Advent.

The Mercy Seat

A couple of weeks ago I was doing my devotions, still journaling through Exodus, and I just loved what I was reading. I didn’t post it because I thought that everyone would be tired of Exodus, but the Lord keeps bringing it back to mind. I just have to share it with you. I hope that it is as encouraging to you as it is to me. Let’s do this.


In Exodus chapter 24 God calls Moses up on Mt. Sinai to speak with him. Read it. It’s incredibly overwhelming. For forty days and nights Moses communes with God in His presence. While Moses is up there God gives him the Ten Commandments, instructions on social interactions, and instructions on the building of the Ark of the Covenant, Tabernacle and how to worship Him.


In chapter 25 we see the instructions God gives Moses on how to build the Ark of the Covenant. I find it interesting that in this passage God never calls it the “Ark of the Covenant”, but the “Ark of Testimony”. In the instructions for constructing this ark the Lord tells Moses to make a cover for it. Verse 17 says, “You shall make a mercy seat (cover) of pure gold.” Later in verses 21,22 God tells Moses, “And you shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.”


I have always thought of the “mercy seat” as a kind of throne. In reality it’s just the lid of the ark of the covenant. But I find this imagery so beautiful. Our testimony, our relationship with God, is truly covered with mercy. He does not meet with us from a seat of judgement, a seat of wrath, a seat of condemnation. No, He meets with us from a seat of mercy. Mercy is the foundation of our relationship with Him. Mercy that is undeserved, unsought, and many times unappreciated. Our testimony before others should be covered with mercy. God’s mercy in our lives should be evident to all.


Later God gives Moses the instructions for the priest’s garments. In chapter 28 verses 29 and 30 we read, “So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgement on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the LORD. And in the breastpiece of judgement you call put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart when he goes before the LORD. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgement of the people of Israel on his heart before the LORD regularly.”


I find it interesting that the Lord sits on a seat of mercy and Aaron is weighed down with the breastpiece of judgement as he comes before the Lord on His mercy seat. I think we often think of it the other way around. We think of God sitting on His judgement seat and we come before Him seeking mercy. But the judgement is already on our hearts. We come before God guilty and already condemned. And in His love, our God’s first inclination towards us is that of mercy. What a beautiful picture of God’s love towards us.


Many of us live lives consumed with guilt and shame. We feel heavily the weight of the breastpiece of judgement and it burdens us down day after day. We believe God sits on a seat of judgement and so we fear to approach His throne. Let this passage encourage you. Our loving God sits on a seat of MERCY! He desires to cover you with mercy. Go before Him. Hand over your breastpiece of judgement. Christ came to set us free from that burden. We are free to approach the Mercy Seat and commune with our God in sweet fellowship. Don’t live in judgement any longer. Live a life covered with sweet mercy.

The First Week of Advent

Yesterday we lit our first candle of Advent. This is our third year celebrating Advent, and I have to admit it is my favorite tradition of Christmas. It is so easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. Celebrating Advent forces us to slow down and prepare our hearts to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. I honestly think everyone who claims Christ as Savior needs to adopt this tradition into their Christmas celebrations.


Advent is a time of preparation and expectant waiting for the celebration of Christmas and sometimes the Second Coming of Christ. Many different denominations of Christianity celebrated Advent from Easter Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Anglican to Presbyterians and Methodists. No one knows exactly when it began, but the tradition of focusing your heart and mind on who Christ is and what He has done to prepare ourselves to truly celebrate Christ’s birth is something worth getting into.

Each Sunday for a month leading up to Christmas we light a candle and focus on the meaning behind that candle. Saturday the kids and I used beeswax we bought from a friend’s farm to make our candles. It was so much fun and added more sentimentality to our celebration. Each child chose essential oils to make their candle smell good.

This week we lit our candle focusing on Jesus the Seed. He is the Seed of the fulfilled promises of God and the Seed of our Salvation. As we light each candle we discuss what it means.


When we look back to the beginning in Genesis, after the fall of man, God cursed the serpent because of his deception of Eve. In this curse was hope and a promise for Eve. Genesis 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring (seed) and her offspring (seed); he shall crush your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” God was giving the promise of a future Redeemer who would one day defeat this evil that ushered sin into the world. Jesus Christ came and crushed the head of Satan when he rose triumphantly from the grave defeating sin, death, and hell. The prophecy was fulfilled. Christ has won the victory and offers His victory to us.


Later in Genesis we see God meeting with Abraham after Abraham obediently offered his son, Isaac, on the alter. God stopped Abraham’s knife and gave him a promise. Genesis 22:18 “And in your offspring (seed) shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” The promised Messiah was going to come from Abraham. All the nations would be blessed through the salvation offered by Jesus Christ. Later in Galatians 3:29 we are told “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring (seed), heirs according to promise.” We have the same inheritance of faith that Abraham had. The prophecy has been fulfilled. We are blessed through the Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ.

We also see the promise of God made to King David. In 2 Samuel 7:16 the Lord tells David, “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” Also in 2 Timothy 2:8 we Paul tells us, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, offspring (seed) of David…” When we see the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter one we see in verse one he is called the “son of David” and then it proceeds to list the ancestors of Christ through David down to Abraham. Jesus will one day come back to earth to rule and reign as King on His rightful throne. It is through Jesus that David’s throne is established forever. Jesus is the Seed of fulfillment of God’s promise to David long ago.


Jesus is also the Seed of our Salvation. We discussed at the lighting of our candle last night how a seed must fall from the plant and die in order to produce new life. I love it when we present an idea to our kids and we see the lightbulbs go off and they just run away with the idea in understanding. We know through the Gospel that Jesus had to die in our place, taking the punishment for our sins, so that He could offer us new life through His resurrection. I love how closely Christmas and Easter are connected. We can not celebrate the cradle without honoring the grave and rejoicing in the resurrection.


As we continue through this week we will sing hymns and carols, bake treats, make crafts, and continue to focus our hearts and minds on Jesus the Seed. I hope that you will take time this week to step away from the business and reflect on Jesus, the fulfillment of prophecy and the Seed of our salvation. 


*We are followoing Slow and Sacred Advent by Jennifer Naraki.  Just click on the link to buy the program from her website.

November is Adoption Awareness Month

November is Adoption Awareness Month. Adoption is, of course, very important to us and close to our hearts. I wish so much it was as important to most believers as it is to God. We are commanded in Scripture to care for widows and orphans in their destress. What does, or should, that look like?


We each have to seek the Lord and ask Him what He would have us to do, but we must all be doing something. I’m gonna get real here, and some may not like it. Feeling sorry for orphans is not caring for them. Simply “liking” a post about orphans on Facebook is not caring for orphans. That one time you sent money to a charity for orphans is not caring for orphans. Sending shoeboxes to kids in Africa every Christmas is not caring for orphans. So, what does caring for orphans look like? How can you get involved and live obediently to the command the Lord has given us.

Our first family picture the day C came home with us.

Adopt... just do it.

I know that not everyone is called to adopt a child into their own family, but I believe there are many who are but just don’t because of finances, fear, uncertainty, the horror of the process, feelings of inadequacy, etc… If you feel even the smallest tug on your heart to adopt, please, search it out. Spend concentrated time with the Lord seeking His direction. There are countless organizations who are dedicated to helping people adopt. The “foster to adopt” system in the US is filled with kids who need loving families. If God is calling you to adopt He will provide for you and guide you. Step out in faith. You will never regret it.

Become a Foster Family

There are thousands of children currently in the foster care system in the U.S. who need families who will take them in and show them the love of God. I know all the excuse, because I used every one of them when we lived in the U.S. And every one of the the excuses are self-centered. Pray honestly about if God would have you provide love and care for these children who so desperately need it. Look into the process locally to see what is involved and what you can do.

Sleeping through his first safari.

Support Foster/Adoptive Parents

But, if you’re not called to adopt, how can you get involved? There are so many ways! First, look around you. Are there people in your church who are foster parents or in the process of adoption? In what ways can you support their family? Because, believe me, they need it! Let me help you with some links to articles that will help you know how best to support the families around you.


17 Practical Ways You Can Support Foster Parents


10 Things You Can Do to Support Foster Families by Confessions of an Adoptive Parent


Supporting Foster Families by Focus on the Family


Each of these articles provide very practical ways that you can support those in the foster or adoption process.

Consider Sponsoring an Orphan

There are children who are living in good orphanages all over the world. The people who run these orphanages do their best to provide more than just daily care for these children. They are trying to give them good educations, life skills, and teach them about the Lord. They run on financial donations and sponsorship. One of the ways they do this is to have people choose one of the children (or care providers such as house mothers) to support financially on a monthly basis. The amount is minimal, but goes directly to the care of that child. Usually you will receive updates on that child’s progress in life and school, and occasionally letters from the child themselves. It is not only helpful to that organization but also very encouraging to that child to know that someone cares enough about them to help meet their needs even from far away.



Lifesong for Orphans is an organization we are close with here in Zambia but they have works all over the world.


Faith Children’s Village is a local orphanage near us that is trustworthy and doing a great job.


New Day Orphanage is another orphanage in Zambia that we have been close to.


I know there are many more, but these are the ones we know personally and can vouch for.




Starting the bonding process before he came home.


Enough can not be said about the power of prayer. I believe we are called to do more than pray for orphans, but it is a vital aspect of our ministry to and care for them. Here are some links to prayer guides from people and organizations who are in it to help you pray effectively.


15 Days of Prayer for Orphans by Lifesong for Orphans


Prayer for Orphans by Knowing Jesus 


This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways that you can get involved, but I pray that it will help you know how to get started. I can tell you from our experience that we do not regret our decision to follow the Lord in adoption. It’s not easy. God doesn’t call us to care for orphans because it’s easy. He calls us to do it so we can be His hands, feet, and heart to them. God calls us to do difficult things so that He can reveal Himself to us through it. God calls us to do impossible things we can’t do so that He can show His power through our weakness and get all the glory through it.


How are you going to get involved? How are you going to start caring for orphans in a way that is real, tangible, and living in obedience to the commands of God?

Walking Through the Valley

I have written in the past about our experience with our miscarriages and stillbirth. Particularly our stillbirth. I have prayed that God would use our children’s lives, no matter how long or short, to bring glory to Himself. God has given me opportunity to use my painful journey to help others who are traveling it too. It has been such a blessing to get to sit with a mother who is hurting and to be able to say that I know her hurt. I have been there. And to get to share with her what God has done in my life as a result of that hurt. I’m on the other side, but I remember being in the depths of it.


As the Lord keeps bringing mothers into my life who have lost children it is becoming more and more apparent to me that we, as survivors, need to do more to help those who are drowning in the sorrow of loss. Just saying, “I’ve had a miscarriage. I’m sorry for your loss,” isn’t enough. Sometimes, when we are so overwhelmed in our sorrow and pain we no longer hear the still small voice of the Father or see the truths that we stood on before our world fell apart.


I want to share with you some things I have learned through walking through the valley of the shadow of death and coming out on the other side that will hopefully help those of you who are in the midst of the pain now.

1. You must grieve.


There is no getting around the grieving process. There is no shortcut. It can not be ignored or denied. We have all learned about the five stages of grief. You have to go through all of them. You need to allow yourself to feel the pain and process through it. We all process it differently, but it must still be processed. The longer you push it away the longer it will take time for you to heal. Grief recognizes the sacred life that you lost.

2. Be honest with God and with yourself.


Most of us feel like we can’t express anger to God. That would be disrespectful! How dare we question God? How dare we doubt God?! God already knows what is in your heart and mind. We can not hide it from Him. The longer we keep it bottled up inside it consumes us and overwhelms us. We can no longer hear the voice of our loving Father. Pour out your heart to Him. The Word tells us that when we don’t have the words the Spirit will interpret the groanings of our heart before the throne of God. If all you do is cry before the Lord and let your heart groan, He knows. He hears. He loves you and wants to communicate to you. Sometimes we aren’t willing to admit our frustration with the Lord because that might make us less spiritual. Open your heart to the Lord and face what is there with Him. This is part of the process.

3. Let God speak to you.


As long as your heart is filled with anger, sorrow, and frustration you can’t hear God’s voice. He is waiting to comfort you and speak to your heart. He hears your questions and feels your pain. He is wanting to reveal Himself to you as you have never known Him before. He will answer your questions in His own way. His answers may not be the ones you want, but they will reveal more of who God is to you. Let Him comfort you. He is the only one who truly can.

4. Stand on the truths of God’s promises.


Truth is truth. All those things you believed about God before you lost your baby are still true. Truth does not change with our circumstances or emotions. That is what makes it true. Sometimes we have to cling to what we know to be true even though it doesn’t feel true in the moment.

The truth is: God loves you more than you could ever comprehend.

The truth is: God always does what is best for you.

The truth is: God has a perfect plan for your life.

The truth is: God loves your baby and it is in His presence in heaven.

The truth is: You can trust God because He is always faithful and good. The list could go on and on and all of it is true. All these truths that are so easy to believe when life is good are still true when your world is falling apart. They sound like platitudes, but in reality they are the foundation and bedrock of our faith. We must stand on them when everything else around us is shifting sand.

5. It’s okay to move on.


Moving on doesn’t mean you forget. Sometimes we feel like if we enjoy life again and let go of our sorrow we dishonor the loss we experienced. We make it not real if we move on. That is not true. Satan wants to keep you in your sorrow so that you are unable to experience the abundant life God has promised you. God is whispering to you to follow Him. He will lead you out of the valley of the shadow of death to lay beside still waters where He can restore your soul. Your baby was real. Your loss is real. Nothing will ever change that. You are forever changed by your experience. There is no going back to the way things were. But God has a beautiful, perfect, fulfilling plan for your future. Don’t feel guilty about embracing that and moving forward. Moving on also gives your child’s life meaning as you use their lives to glorify God and the lessons you’ve learned to help others.

I’m praying for you, sweet momma. I’m praying that as you walk through this valley of the shadow of death you would cling to your Savior. Don’t push Him away. He is he only One who can lead you through. He’s already been there. He knows the way. He IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let go of whatever you’re holding on to; pain, sorrow, frustration, anger, shame… and open your heart to what God has for you. It is beautiful. He makes beauty from ashes and joy from pain. Let Him do His work in your heart.


Thirteen years later it’s much easier to write this than it would have been 10 years ago. My life has moved forward. I never forget my sweet babies. They are in my heart and on my mind every. single. day. Someone likened sorrow to a rock in your pocket. At first it is heavy and rough and sharp. You always feel the weight of it and whenever you put your hand in your pocket it cuts you. But the more you touch it it the rough edges get rubbed off, the weight becomes familiar. The stone gets smoothed into a thing of beauty and the feeling of it in your pocket becomes a comfort.


This is so true of my experience. I’m on the other side of the valley. The pain still comes, but it isn’t as sharp. The memories are always there. But over the years I’ve learned that the painful days are precious to me. The memories are stored up in my heart and cherished. God has taken my pain and turned it into something beautiful. He offers the same to you, dear sister. It takes time, but it will come. Hold on to Him.

Where Does Your Loyalty Lie?

Each and every one of us is called by God to choose where our loyalties will lie and then to stand firm in that decision. We all have decisions in our life that we need to repent of and leave behind. Regardless of our age at salvation we all have to consciously choose to leave in the past certain events in our life and we must choose to move on in the power and grace of the Lord.


I’m still in Exodus. It’s going to be a while. But seriously, guys, I don’t want to move on! What a rich, amazing book about the love of God for His people! I want to savor and enjoy every sweet word from the mouth of my God. I’m in Exodus chapter 14. The famous passage where God parts the Red Sea for His people to escape the pursuing Egyptians. Read it. It’s amazing. But as I was journaling through it I caught a different perspective. One that is so applicable to us all.


Picture this quick summary. The Israelites have fled Egypt after seeing the hand and power of God through the plagues, especially the passover angel. They have peacefully plundered the willing Egyptians and are now following the Lord as a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night through the desert. Suddenly God tells them to backtrack and camp in a vulnerable position beside the sea. As they are encamped there the whole of the Egyptian army comes thundering towards them to recapture them. God moves from before them to their rear as a guard all through the night. Then He used Moses to part the sea for the Israelites to flee from the Egyptians. The Egyptian army pursues and God uses Moses to bring the waters down upon them killing them all. Thus proving His power to both the Egyptian and Israelite nations.

I started thinking about Moses. He was an unwilling leader in the beginning with no personal relationships with this Jehovah God. As he followed, sometimes unwillingly, God proved Himself to Moses and brought Moses into a relationship with Him. Moses left Egypt as a fugitive, not willingly. He still had to have had intimate relationships among the Egyptians that were meaningful and precious to him.


If we think about our pasts many of us have passed through terrible and traumatic situations. As much as we hate the situations we have an emotional attachment to it and those involved whether it be an affection for them or hatred. That is one reason why it is so difficult to move forward in life; why we want to hold on to it. Perhaps Moses had the same. He had his childhood friends and all those precious memories. He had those who had genuinely loved him, invested in him, and cared for him. He truly loved and cared for them in return.


Now Moses had chosen to follow a different God and become part of a different people and those people from his past that he loved had chosen not to follow him. They didn’t understand the choices he was making. Perhaps they even tried to persuade him to give up this new life and come back where they believed he belonged. Having seen the work of God Moses had purposed in his heart to follow this God and remain faithful to Him. But he saw people he loved suffering in the plagues. I’m sure people he loved were killed in the plagues, but he had chosen sides. Until this point it was God who was killing them, not Moses. Moses was just choosing sides.

Perhaps some of the people of Israel still had doubts about the leadership of Moses. They knew he had grown up living the life of luxury in the palace. They knew he still had people he cared about among the Egyptian people. Sure, he had lived in exile and come back following the Lord, but the heart has strong ties to those it loves. He had more intimate relationships among the Egyptians than he did the Israelites. How could they be sure of his loyalty?


Now, in this moment God had safely delivered His people on the other side of the sea. The Egyptian army is panicking and struggling in the middle of the sea. Down there, pursuing them, were Moses’ childhood friends. Perhaps even members of his Egyptian family. Sons of people he had grown up with. And instead of God simply sending the waters crashing down upon them he tells Moses to do it. Moses stands there looking on these men he loved in his past and has to choose. Will he obey God and follow Him or not. Maybe he was in fight mode protecting the people he knew were depending on him. Maybe he hesitated and closed his eyes as he slowly raised his arm. We don’t know, but in that moment there was no going back. He was deliberately choosing where his loyalties lied.

Verse 31 tells us, “ Israel saw the great power of the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.” The Lord and the Israelite people saw in that moment that Moses was on their side. He deliberately chose to let go of his past and move on into the life that God had created him for and called him to. I can imagine the sorrow in Moses’ heart as he saw the water crashing down and knew people he loved were dying. Verse 30 tells us the Israelites saw their bodies on the shore of the sea. Perhaps he saw the bodies of men he knew.


This was a turning point for Moses. God brings us all to this moment of decision. He calls us to choose where our loyalty lies. Maybe you have experienced a past trauma you are unable to move forward from. Maybe you are struggling with an addiction that you can’t let go of. Perhaps you are controlled by your emotions and fears. God is calling you to choose to trust Him, let go of your past, and follow Him. But the choice is yours. God will not tolerate divided loyalty in your heart. Once you choose you must stand firmly in your choice. There is no turning back.


When Moses chose to willfully raise his arm in obedience, purposefully chosen to let go of his past and live in loyal submission to God, God proved His power through Moses. You are powerless in the kingdom of God as long as your heart is divided in it’s loyalty. When you choose to step forward in obedience to God, counting the cost and putting your past behind you, God will prove His power in you. You have purpose. You are able to fulfill His will for your life. You are free to move forward into the abundant life God has planned for you. It is a life so much fuller, richer, peaceful, grace-filled, and beautiful than the past that wants to hold on to you.

Please, if you are struggling to let go of the past; if you are struggling to choose where your loyalties lie, follow Moses’ example to us. Count the cost and raise your arm in loyal obedience to the God who loves you more than you could imagine. If only Moses could have read further into the story as we can. It would have made that moment so much easier. But God had amazing things in store for Moses that he could never have imagined. God brought Moses into the most beautiful relationship with Him in all of scripture. Moses saw God do truly miraculous things over and over. Moses stood on the mountain of God in His presence and came down transformed. But it all came down to his choice in that moment. The same is true for you. Choose this day who you will serve and stand firmly in that choice no matter what the consequence may bay. Then watch and see how God will reveal Himself to you. He is just waiting for you to make the right choice. 

Our Family Tree

Those of you who have foster parented, adopted, or raised children that are not your own who come from a difficult background know that most of the time it is very difficult. I’ve written past blogposts about our experiences with this if you want to scroll down through them. During a particularly difficult part of our adoption process I was journaling through Romans and the Lord spoke to my heart about our family through an unlikely passage. It gave me peace and a hope for our future in the midst of a present that was anything but peaceful and hopeful.


All of my theology friends will need to bear with me on this blog post. I know that this is not a theologically accurate application of this passage.   My prayer is that what God whispered to my heart that day would be an encouragement for others going through difficult foster/adoption situations.

The passage is Romans 11:17-19. It would be easiest for me to just give you these few verses. “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”


In this passage the Lord is speaking to Gentile believers and their relationship with Jewish believers. But as I was journaling through it I realized there is a parallel with our family that really encouraged me.


We all have our “family trees”. We usually start with a couple who are the roots and we see how many other families have branded off from that couple. I remember doing family tree projects for school as a child.

Here is what I saw.

My family is a tree.

God is the roots of our tree. We get our life, peace, and our joy from Him. He is Who sustains us and grows us.

Our marriage is the trunk. Our marriage grows out of our faith in and relationship with God.

Our children are the branches. We have three healthy, strong, growing branches. They are producing fruit and thriving. This passage in Romans talks about the branches that were broken off. Our family has some broken branches. If you know our family or read my previous blog posts you know that we lost two babies to miscarriage and one to stillbirth. Those are our broken branches.


But then the passage goes on to talk about a wild olive shoot that was grafted in among the others. Adoption. How beautiful is this??!! Stick with me and you’ll see it. In the passage the wild olive shoot is grafted in and shares in the nourishing root of the olive tree.

My son started out on a different tree.

And not just a different tree, but a different kind of tree.

A different cultural tree,

a different color tree,

a different country tree.

He started out with different roots and a different trunk.

He was a broken branch taken from his indigenous family tree.

God is grafting him into our family tree.

In order to graft a shoot into a tree you have to remove the shoot from the original tree, cut the new tree, and tie them together so they start to grow together. You must damage the shoot and the tree so that they can heal together. This is what God is doing with our family. He broke the branches from our tree so that there would be room for C to grow. He removed C from His family tree so he could grow with us. He cut our hearts for C and gave us compassion and love for him. God has bound us together so that we can heal and grow together.


But even more than the grafting the passage goes on to talk about sharing in the nourishing root of the olive tree. C now shares in the root of our family. His root is God. As God feeds our marriage He is feeding the branches, our children, and C is now our child being fed by God. He is getting the same life nourishing food from the Father as our biological children. Just like our biological children are producing fruit C will produce fruit too. His branch will look different from the others, and his fruit will look different from the others, but he shares the same trunk and the same root. It is just what God intended and designed.

Most importantly we must remember at the end of the passage it says that we do not support the root, but the root supports us. If God is our root we have no fear of decay or falling.

It is not my job to support C.

It is not my job to produce fruit in his life.

It is not my job to make sure he is properly grafted into our family.

It is my job to stand strong on our root, our Creator God Himself.

It is He who supports and upholds our family. He is feeding us, supporting us, and producing fruit in us, and it is a beautiful thing.

Learning to Live with Reality

I have been very blessed to grow up active and healthy. My parents encouraged us to play sports and truly experience life. I remember being forced to do things I was terrified to do and ended up loving those same activities. Being raised that way has shaped me as a person and as a parent. As an adult I have been able to remain active and healthy. Those of you who know me know that I love outdoor sports of almost any kind, and I love activities that get my adrenaline going. I love challenging myself and learning new things.


Growing up I was obsessed with horses. What girl isn’t, right? My aunt always had horses. I remember wanting to be just like her when I grew up. Whenever we would visit her she would let me ride her horses if I would muck the stalls. Seemed like a good deal to a horse obsessed girl. I remember seeing her ride at fairs or in competitions. She rode western and to me was the epitome of a cowgirl. When I met Jamie, my husband, he had horses. I may have taken advantage of our friendship on occasion just to ride his horses.

When we moved to Kitwe we found a stable that offers riding lessons… in english riding. So different than how I grew up riding. We immediately signed our horse crazy girls up for lessons. Week after week I would sit watching and listening to their lessons. The horse crazy girl deep inside me started to reawaken and I decided that instead of just sitting and watching I would take lessons too. Learn new things. Experience life, not just observe it. I loved it! It was amazing how much of my passion for horses was renewed. The feel of the horse beneath me was thrilling. And I was working hard to learn a completely different style of riding.


Last August I was riding a horse I had never ridden before. My instructor was telling me how excited she was to put me on this horse. She just knew I would love him. By the end of the lesson he went completely wild and I had fallen off twice. I knew I had broken my tailbone… been there, done that before. And I figured, give me a few weeks, I’ll be fine, and then this horse and I have some unfinished business we need to work out.

A year later I was still in pain and getting worse. We decided I needed to see a specialist and so I flew to South Africa to see a doctor. I expected he would tell me that yes, my tailbone is broken, but it’ll heal and you’ll be fine. I chalked up my back pain to muscle issues from sitting funny for a year. After an MRI the doctor told me that I had damaged a disc in my spine. I was diagnosed with… da da da da… a broken tailbone AND a bulging, deteriorating disc in my lower back. My tailbone would heal with time, but he explained that my spine would never heal. He then strongly commanded no running, cycling, horseback riding, or any other activity that would jar my spine. I heard my life slip away with those words. He gave me two options: 1. live on pain meds in chronic pain or 2. attempt to manage the pain through diet and exercise. The choice was a no-brainer for me! Diet and exercise all the way.


I immediately dug into research. I’m such a nerd. Not having a good physical therapist to work with here in Zambia I devised a plan based on my research and ran it by an American doctor that serves here with us. He agreed that my plan was probably the best I was going to get here and to go for it. Riding in the car in Zambia is worse than doing the three banned activities all at once due to our lovely roads. So… my first step towards recovery was to quarantine myself to home. Organizing everyone’s lives around that was quite the job. Second was diet. I immediately started eating a very strict anti-inflammatory diet. And third was exercise. I started a strict routine of yoga, stretching, and core exercises in an attempt to strengthen the muscles around the weak part of my spine so I could get back to experiencing life.

The MRI image of my spine with obvious injury.

Praise God my plan has been working. I’m feeling so much stronger. My pain has become mild discomfort. And I’m feeling healthier all over because I’m taking care of my body. A couple of weeks ago I was feeling so good that I jumped back into life. My body very strongly protested that decision. I was in so much pain I felt like I was back at square one. I realized that in the past every injury I experienced would eventually heal and I could go on with life. Not this time. Just because I feel good doesn’t mean I’m healing. It means what I’m doing is working and to stick with it. It was a rude awakening.


It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that I will never be completely well again. It’s hard to realize that my life will be limited from now on. I realized I’ve been living in denial about how life will look in the future. I know that to an extent I will eventually regain some activities, but I will always have to be conscious about how those activities will affect my back. I will be living with a certain amount of chronic pain for the rest of my life. I will have to be careful not to further injure my spine.

My girl jumping. Our awesome instructor. My future goal.

Along with the realization that I have been living in denial came the realization that I’ve been avoiding the emotional and spiritual effects of this diagnosis. I’m coming to understand that I need to accept the reality of what my life will now look like. I need to mourn the loss of my active lifestyle. It hurts to tell my kids that I can’t run around the yard with them playing games anymore. At least for now. It is hard to tell my family to hug me gently. I hate the phrase, “it hurts my back”. I don’t like having to think through every movement. But that is the reality of my life right now.


And then I started to see that I was frustrated with God for limiting me like this. I’m living here, serving him, and I need a healthy, whole body to be able to do that. I have a family to take care of and this doesn’t help one bit. I had plans! I was going to run my first marathon in May. Bye-bye Flying Pig. I was going to teach my kids to snowboard this winter in the U.S. I was going to go on mountain biking dates with my husband. I was going to compete in my first horse jumping competition this year. God isn’t following my plans at all! Boy is he humbling me. My life is not my own. I was fine surrendering my heart, life, home, kids, husband… but I’m finding I never surrendered my body. Well, it’s on the alter now.

These are not lessons I’ve learned. I’m not looking back retrospectively. I’m in the very depths of it right now. I’m having to say with each twinge of pain that God’s strength is perfected in my weakness. Every time I have to say no and limit myself I pray that God would find some way to work through my inability to work. And as I come to accept the fact that I will never heal I am reminding myself that God has a perfect plan in this. He has always been faithful and I can trust Him now. My life may look different than I desired, but it is not over. God still has a rich, full, rewarding, satisfying future for me that will bring all the glory to Him. My dream of playing rugby may be over, but someday I will run that marathon and jump those horses. And right now I can keep serving my Savior and my family in the capacity God has given me. This is all about Him anyway, not me.

The charm from my necklace from my first miscarriage.

The Blessing of Loss

Loss is a reality of life in this sin cursed world that can not be avoided. Loss brings with it the process of grief.  We all hate loss and grief, and we avoid it at all costs.  We shelter our children from it.  We try everything we can to prevent it.  When it comes we live in denial of it.  We stuff our feelings away and ignore the grief we are experiencing.  We distract ourselves so we don’t have to think about it.  We refuse to acknowledge it and put on our best Pollyanna imitation, the eternal optimist.  We can not imagine in any way that there is blessing in loss.  


I’m writing this today from the perspective of miscarriage and stillbirth.  Those are the biggest losses I have experienced in my life.  I have also moved internationally and experienced the loss of home and family.  I’ve experienced the loss of family members to death.  I’ve lost freedom and activity through injury.  The list could go on for all of us.  But it was through the loss of my babies, my most painful loss, that I also experienced the greatest blessing.  My prayer is that some of what I share from my experiences and walk with the Lord can be translated into the areas of loss and grief in your own life. 


the process of grief is a blessing

This is going to sound crazy, but I have come to discover that the processing of grief is a blessing.  I think it is very important to acknowledge that we all process loss and grief differently.  Some of us grieve privately.  Internally we hold sacred the experiences we had with each loss.  Others grieve publicly.  They have to share their experiences with others in order to process.  I grieve privately.  I need to get alone with God and process through what just happened.  Hearing other people’s experiences overwhelms me.  Even having to deal with other people’s comfort and emotions about my loss overwhelms me.  I need first to get my feet back on solid ground before I can deal with everything and everyone else.  And so I have to dive into Scripture and spend deep, intimate time with my Savior.  I set my feet upon the Rock.  Only then can I start looking outwards and at the circumstances around me.  This has been a huge blessing to me.  It continually brings me back to the Anchor of my soul.  It keeps me in complete dependence on Him.   

grief itself is a blessing

We must give in to the grieving process.  We must acknowledge and embrace the loss we have experienced and then process it.  We must allow ourselves to feel the pain and work through it.  Grief itself is a blessing.  It forces us to surrender to our Sovereign Creator God.  It forces us to acknowledge that we truly have no control in this life.  He is God and I am not.  We are put into a correct prospective of Who God is and who I am in relation to Him.  Many times we respond in anger.  “How dare God take that away from me!”  “I don’t deserve this!”  “It’s not fair!”  But when we finally surrender to God and His perfect plan for us there is freedom and peace unlike anything we have ever experienced.  


My "mommy" bracelet

experiencing God's love and best is a blessing

As we come out on the other side of the grieving process we learn more about the depth of God’s love and His best for us and for our children.  He walks every step of the grieving process with us.  He bottles our tears and holds them close to His heart.  He hurts every hurt and sobs every sob, and He holds us close. He is much more intimately understanding of loss and grief than we are.  My hope is for my child, my family, my self.  I had plans and hopes and dreams for my baby.  God took all that away. How could God take away my baby?  How can that be good?  We can not define “good” and “love” by our own standards.  They must be defined by God’s standards.  I fully believe that God showed His greatest love and ultimate best for my babies when He took them straight to Heaven and saved them from a life of sin, pain, loss, grief, and struggle here on earth.  That is love.  That is good.  Being a mother and having my babies isn’t about me and what I want.  It is about what is best for my children and God’s purposes for them.  Skipping this temporal life and jumping straight into eternal life…  It’s better than good.  That is God demonstrating His love to me and to my child.  


hope is a blessing

The next, and biggest, blessing comes out of my relationship with God.  Because I have acknowledged my sin before a Holy God, asked His forgiveness, and received the payment that Jesus Christ paid on my behalf for the punishment of my sins I have a relationship with God.  I have His presence and leading through this short life and eternity in Heaven to look forward to with Him, and my babies.  I will never have to wonder about whether my babies will be saved from their sins or be lost to an eternity of punishment in hell.  They are already with the Father in Heaven.  And I may miss out on watching them grow for now, but I will have eternity to get to know them and enjoy them.  


changed perspective is a blessing

Loss changes our perspective.  It usually goes one of two ways.  We can become pessimistic and focusing on the loss we live in anger and resentment, or we can focus on life and hope and live in joy and peace.  A friend once said that her body had carried more death than life.  I completely understand where she is coming from, but my heart broke.  Life is eternal, death is but a moment.  God used my, and her, body to create an eternal life, a forever soul.  A miracle in every sense of the word.  It is beautiful and precious no matter how long or short the physical life lasts.  Physical life isn’t really life.  Our souls are life eternal.  My babies physical lives may have lasted only weeks or months, but they are living forever.  LIFE!  Life is what my body has carried, and hope is that sweet some day when I will kiss their faces and dance with them on streets of gold in worship to this God who loved us and gave us His best.  


pain is a blessing

Do the hard days still come?  Absolutely.  Does it still hurt?  Terribly.  Over the years this pain has become a blessing to me.  It has been 16 years since my first miscarriage.  It has been 13 years since my stillbirth.  The fact that they happened hasn’t changed, but my memory has.  Memories fade.  I used to hate the difficult days.  I hated the pain and the aching in my heart and arms for that one child I happened to be grieving for that day.  But as the years go by those hard days have become precious to me.  A blessing.  They are a reminder that those babies lived in me.  They are a reminder that the experience was real.  And they are a reminder of the hope of seeing them again.  My aching heart and arms will hold my sweet babies close someday.  What a blessing!  


My daughter Grace

remembering is a blessing

I think it is also important to memorialize each loss in some way that is meaningful to you.  Some people remember their due dates, the dates they miscarried, they name their babies, they buy jewelry to wear in memory of their babies, get tattoos in honor of them.  I remember dates if there is something with it to help me.  I’m not a detail person.  With my first miscarriage my baby died the day before Thanksgiving.  I remember that.  My second miscarriage I remember what was going on but not the exact date.  I don’t remember either due dates.  I didn’t name either baby.  But I have stored up in my heart the experiences of them all.  I wear a bracelet in memory of Grace, my daughter who was stillborn.  We celebrate her birthday every year together as a family.  I have a picture of her on my bedside table.  We visit her grave when we are in the US as a way of remembering her life and how it has impacted our family.  These memorials are a blessing.  A reminder that these children are a part of our family.  Who we are and who our family is has been drastically shaped by their existence.  


My first Grace Bracelet. I wore it every day for 12 years before getting a new one.

it's impact on my family is a blessing

Loss and grief are a very real part of our family.  My children have known all their lives that they have siblings in heaven.  Grace died when Lorelei was almost a year old.  She has no memory of Grace’s pregnancy and the pain of our loss, but she has always known that she has a little sister in heaven.  Grace has always been present in her life.  One time when Lorelei was little I was pushing her on a swing.  She kept asking me to push her higher and higher.  Then she asked me, “Do you think God pushes Grace on the swings in heaven?”  So innocent.  So sweet.  I told her, “I think God does push Grace on the swings in heaven and He pushes higher than anyone.”  Because of our losses all of my living children have grown up with an eternal perspective.  They’ve seen me on my hard days and lovingly comforted me.  They know there are days I wish God would send Grace down for just a few minutes so I could hug and kiss and snuggle her, days when I just want to hold Grace.  Days when I’m struggling and they ask what is wrong and I answer, “I just miss Grace.”  The loss of their siblings and the presence of that loss in our family was a catalyst in their salvations.  Heaven has always been a part of our home because half of our children are there.  God has used that in such beautiful ways that I would never take it back.  Not for one moment.  I want them to know that loss is real and unavoidable, but it is also a blessing.  


You may have never experienced loss on a devastating scale, but some day you will.  You may be in the depths of grief at this moment.  You may be on the other side, but still struggling and questioning.  I’m praying for you. I’m praying that God would show Himself to you in very tangible ways.  I’m praying that God would reveal to you the blessings of loss.  I’m praying that what God has brought me through would be a blessing to you and bring glory to Him.  Accept loss and grief as the reality of living in this sin cursed world, but also accept the blessings that God brings about from it.  He makes beauty from ashes.  


Continuing on Moses' Journey of Faith (and ours)

It is amazing to me how journaling through Scripture has opened my heart and mind to so much as God speaks to me through His Word.  It’s beautiful.  It’s exciting.  It’s rich, and real, and wonderful.  Every day is a spiritual adventure just waiting to unfold.  


I’m still in Exodus.  And I haven’t gotten very far.  Like I said before, I’m a slow journal-er.  I like to take time to meditate and think over things.  But I have made it to chapter four.  Chapter three is Moses’ famous burning bush experience.  It continues into chapter four when he departs for Egypt.  


If you’re like me you’ve heard countless sermons on this passage.  A lot of assumptions are made, and I’ll be making some as well.  But after this I don’t really agree with all the assumptions I’ve heard.  I’ve been told that Moses’ was taught of the God of Israel while he was growing up in Egypt and believed in Him.  I’ve been told that his biological mother continued to have an influencing presence in his life as he grew up.  He obviously knew his biological siblings.  At least his brother Aaron.  I’ve been told that Moses willingly accepted this call and stepped forward in faith.  And if you’ve ever watched the animated movie you will see much that is not in the biblical account.  I know, I know, it’s just a movie.  But it shapes the way we remember and think about Scripture.  


As I’ve been journaling through there are some things that have really jumped out at me that I want to share with you because I think we can all relate to them in one way or another.  I’ve already written about Moses’ initial encounter with God as God introduces Himself to Moses.  As we get further into this encounter I want us to think about where Moses is coming from.  He grew up a prince of Egypt in the palace.  He had Egyptian tutors.  He was taught Egyptian religion.  He probably saw the court magicians practice magic before him.  But he knew he was not Egyptian.  He probably was taught about the God of the Hebrews, but maybe he just lumped Jehovah God in with the other gods that he was taught about and maybe worshiped.  In this passage he does not identify himself as a Hebrew.  I’m making assumptions like all the preachers we’ve heard, but realistically thinking through his formative years in a practical way and looking at his reactions in this passage I think this is a reasonable assumption.  Here’s why I think this.  


In chapter three Moses encounters God in this burning bush.  God speaks to him very clearly out of the bush.  God introduces Himself very clearly.  (Scroll down a few posts and you’ll see my previous writing about that encounter.)  Throughout that encounter God introduces Himself as Yahweh multiple times.  


Now we are in chapter four and Moses is still tossing doubts at God.  God uses miraculous signs to prove to Moses His power.  If we jump ahead into chapter seven we see the court magicians replicate one of these signs.  If Moses had seen their work as he was growing up in the palace there is a possibility that theses signs were not as impressive to him as they would be to us.  Of course God would have known that and it would have been part of His plan in communicating with Moses.  But it would not have had the faith building effect we may expect it to have.  It clearly surprised him, but no where does it evidence a production of faith in Moses.  It seems to simply prove that God is one of the gods he was taught about as a child.


Then we see, after continued doubts, in verse 10 that Moses addresses the LORD, Yahweh, as “Lord”, sir.  And throughout the rest of this encounter Moses never once addresses God as Yahweh, just as sir.  There is no acknowledgement from Moses that he believes that this is the One True God.  This leads me to believe that this was Moses’ first real encounter with Yahweh God.  I don’t think he is a true believer yet, but he is intrigued.  


As for what God is asking him to do… now that seems very difficult for him.  Moses ran from Exodus a fugitive fleeing for his life.  He wandered through the wilderness until he ended up in Midian.  There he met his wife and father-in-law.  He has made a comfortable life for himself and his family in Midian.  Perhaps he had planned to grow old there and watch his family grow around him.  It seemed he had no plans of going back to Egypt or reconnecting with his biological family.  The way God says in verse 14 that his brother, Aaron, would be happy to see him could indicate a ruptured relationship between them.  Who knew how long his life would be in danger in Egypt?  Who knew if his family would accept him if he went back?  There was no reason to go back.  Now he meets this God who wants him to go back and confront the very things he worked so hard to leave in the past.  


Because he doesn’t have true faith in this God he is trying every way he can think of to get out of this.  “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘ The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”  He is curious about this God but also knows he needs to clearly identify Him before Pharaoh who believed in multiple gods.  He also says, “the God of YOUR fathers”, he is not identifying as a Hebrew.  This God is not yet his God.  Then, “But behold, they will not believe me…”  Finally, “Oh, my Lord (sir, not Yahweh), I am not eloquent…”  It seems to me he’s looking for a way out.  He’s not sure he trusts this God and he doesn’t want to confront his past.  


Moses eventually comes to the place where he has to obey, but it is a faithless obedience.  It seems to be more of a testing obedience.  A Cosmic Power has addressed him and given him instructions.  Now he is going to see if it is true.  He doesn’t even give his father-in-law the true reason for his leaving.  He passes it off as a family visit.  He takes his wife and children and heads out for Egypt with the staff of God in his hand.  His first two steps of obedience: take the staff, and go.  


I can see him in my mind.  He grimly grasps the staff in his hand as he turns to take one last look at his safe, comfortable home.  He turns with his jaw set and determination in his eyes as he leads the donkey carrying his wife and children into the unknown.  Even though God told him what was going to happen this is a God he doesn’t know or trust… yet.  His was a testing obedience.


Many of us come to our relationship with God in the same way.  Sometimes God is the God of our parents and we have given him little thought other than what we are forced into at church or school.  Sometimes people believe in a Cosmic Power, but when they meet the true God it takes time to truly believe.  Perhaps you don’t believe in a God at all.  And when He finally reveals Himself to you you need proofs to truly believe.  


I think this also speaks to many of us as we step out in uncomfortable ways in obedience to God.  We have our comfortable home, our church, our job security, our family has put down roots, and our relationship with God hasn’t gone much further than our salvation experience.  We go to church because we are supposed to, but our bible collects it’s dust between Sundays.  And suddenly God speaks to us and tells us He wants us to let go of it all.  Maybe He is calling us to missions, a new way of life, a new job, or maybe just a real relationship with Him.  Maybe He is calling us to confront a past we have been working years to leave behind.  Maybe it’s both at the same time.  


We step out with a testing obedience, not a faith filled obedience.  But God clearly says in 1 Samuel 15:22 that he delights in our obedience.   Nowhere is faith mentioned.  As we step out in obedience God proves His faithfulness to us.  Through God’s proven faithfulness our faith grows and we experience Him in new ways.  It’s a cycle of growth and faith.  As we look at the beginning of Moses’ relationship with God we can clearly see many of our own experiences.  We can relate.  


I’m excited to continue through this book to see how God grows Moses’ faith and Moses’ relationship with God grows and becomes real.  How about you?  I want to challenge you.  No more dusty bibles.  Grab a notebook, a pen, and dive into God’s word.  Let Him speak to you. My prayer is that as God speaks to you, you will step out in obedience and would experience God as your faith and relationship with Him grow.

Life Lately and Answered Prayers

Whew!!  Life has been crazy the last few weeks.  As a result we are a bit overwhelmed, exhausted, and looking forward to visiting the US in December even more.  Allow me to share.


Three weeks ago the girls competed in their first official horse jumping show.  They did AWESOME!  They’ve been working and training for it all year long.  After my back diagnosis mid July I have been sticking close to home and focusing on exercise and diet to manage pain and build strength.  This was the first week I went out two times.  I felt it!  But the girls performing so well in their first show was a huge answer to prayer. 


L with Bambam

J with Louis

Our church has outgrown our current venue.  For the last few years the local VFW hall has allowed us to meet there on Sunday mornings rent free.  It’s been a tremendous blessing and many members of the club have started coming to our church as a result.  A while back our church was granted the rental lease of a dilapidated cinema just two blocks from our current location.  It’s been a huge undertaking for our congregation to renovate the cinema to meet our needs as a church.  


Last weekend we had a professional sound technician come up from South Africa to install our new sound equipment.  We had planned a worship team rehearsal on Friday, a huge worship service on Saturday, and church all at the new location on Sunday.  The sound equipment didn’t arrive when planned so we rearranged our schedule and ended up with a Saturday practice and church and worship service on Sunday.  Whew!!  It was amazing, but exhausting!  A huge answer to prayer.


Our worship service at our new venue. When the work is finished we will be moving in.

During that week our small generator and L’s bike mysteriously disappeared from our back porch!  The dogs had been out since we last used it and I had been home most of that time.  After a search of the property we realized it had been stolen.  We had the police out and filed a report.  A few days later the local neighborhood watch called us and told us that they had picked up our thief soaking wet.  He had attempted to steal the water pump for our well, but our dogs found him.  They chased him into our pool and he barely escaped them.  He admitted to stealing our generator and bike as well.  Caught “wet” handed.  A huge answer to prayer!


Mom and Dad had been traveling for five weeks through Zambia and Malawi teaching local pastors.  They had planned a week in Mozambique doing the same, but Mom became sick with her first case of malaria.  They chose to come home, and I’m so glad they did.  Dad ended up with malaria.  So did W, Jamie and I.  This year has been the easiest year we’ve had with malaria since moving to Zambia.  That’s a huge answer to prayer.  Mom and Dad coming home and getting the rest they needed instead of pushing through is also a huge answer to prayer.  


This past weekend we had our second Youth Camp for our church.  The topic was Guarding Your Heart in an Unguarded World.  We had an amazing time.  The lessons were deeply rooted in scripture and God used it to change hearts and lives.  The games were crazy fun.  The food was amazing.  And L won the Christian Character award for her team.  The whole weekend was a huge answer to prayer.  


Awesome obstical course at camp complete with mud pit

This week Jamie has traveled to South Africa for the Sola 5 conference.  The rest of us are all here on the old homestead holding down the fort.  I’m excited for what God is going to do while he is there, but we always miss him desperately when he is gone.  Thankfully it’s not very often.  Usually the kids really struggle when Daddy is traveling and it comes out in attitudes and behavior.  Today was the smoothest day we have had in a very long time.  I’m so thankful for the kid’s good attitudes, helpful spirits, and obedient hearts.  It was a huge answer to prayer!


The kids decided to make applesauce all on their own. It was delicious!

I’m so thankful that in the midst of chaos and business we are seeing God work all around us.  This is why we are here; to live well, love God, and serve others.  In the exhaustion there is fulfillment and satisfaction knowing that we are exactly where God wants us to be and doing what He has put us here to do.  


Now we look forward to a bit of rest.  And as December approaches we look forward to spending some restful time with family and friends in the US.  There is a season for everything under heaven.  This has been a season of business and we are looking forward to a season of rest… hopefully.  

Parenting IS the Gospel

 When I found out I was pregnant with my first baby I started praying for their salvation.  Before that I was so consumed with getting pregnant that I was only praying for their existence.  Ten weeks into that pregnancy God chose to take my baby to heaven.  It is a gross understatement to say that it hurt.  Through that loss God revealed Himself to me in so many amazing ways.  He also brought me to the point of rethinking the purpose of being a parent, and that has drastically transformed the way we disciple and raise our living children. 


I started asking why?  Not really why my baby died, although that was there too, but why have children in the first place?  In the beginning I had this crazy obsession… you know, “the baby bug”.  I just wanted a baby to love and a family.  When God took that from me I had to wrestle through where my baby is.  (The book that helped me the most was “Safe In The Arms Of God” by John MacArthur .)  Why would God allow that in my life?  Would I ever have any children?  What is the purpose in having children at all?  


I found that the answer to all those questions is two words:  THE GOSPEL.  Plain and simple.  The Gospel.  The whole purpose of having children is to lead them to our Savior and disciple them to be warriors for Him.  Every decision I make as a parent has to be founded on the gospel.  


There is so much that goes into being a parent.  It can be exhilarating and joy filled as we watch that first step, first day of school, etc.  It can be disappointing and frustrating as we deal with discipline issues and the pain of our own failures as parents.  The day to day of parenting life can easily distract us from the purpose of it.  We get lost in the commotion around us and forget to be intentional.  


So what does living the gospel as a parent look like?  First, your relationship with God has to be the most important thing in your life.  You must daily spend time with Him in His word, praying, meditating and memorizing scripture.  We, as parents, must let the gospel transform us day by day.  Our kids see it.  They watch our lives to figure out how they are to live.  We must live the gospel in front of them every day.  Even in our failures we must live the gospel.  Make things right and let God work in us and through us despite ourselves.  


I believe we must speak truth into our children’s lives.  One resource that has helped us tremendously is “Shepherding A Child’s Heart” by Tedd Tripp.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  If you have read it, live it.  Even as a grandparent or aunt or uncle read it and live it with the children in your life.  Our children need to understand that they are sinners.  Even from an early age, they need to understand that when they disobey mom and dad they also disobey God.  They must understand that it is God who put mom and dad in authority over them and that must be respected. They need to know that discipline is ordained by God for the punishment of sins.  We don’t discipline behavior we discipline heart issues and help our children work through them step by step.  They need to hear from the very beginning that their sins are an offense to a Holy God.  Tell them the gospel each time we discipline them.  Keep it simple and short, but make sure the gospel is in there.  


It is important to each our children that they need to learn how to repent and make things right with those they offend and with God.  Getting punished is not enough.  Saying, “I’m sorry” is not enough.  We need to live out in our own lives how to repair broken relationships, even in the little offenses, and then walk our children through how to do the same.  When we taught our children to apologize we also taught them to apologize to God, ask forgiveness, and help in doing it right the next time.  How we discipline our children is a huge deal and very important to their understanding the gospel.  


From the earliest moments we must be teaching them good character habits and how those relate to God and our relationship with Him.  Charlotte Mason has much to say about teaching strong character traits to our children.  I also got a great list from the Duggars blog with scripture and wonderful definitions included.  We go through one a month, but if I could go back and do it again we would have started with character training from the very earliest moments I could.  We live good character before our children and then teach them what it is, how to live it out in their own lives and why it is important to God.  


As my children grew older they knew the gospel in its simplest form inside and out.  They knew that they were sinners.  Their sins separated them from our Holy God and deserve punishment.  Jesus came to take the ultimate punishment for their sins by dying on the cross for them.  And they have to choose to accept the sacrifice of Christ for themselves.  In time the Holy Spirit changed that head knowledge to heart knowledge and they chose to receive Christ as their Savior all on their own.  But it was those early years of faithfully speaking gospel truth into their hearts and lives that laid the foundation for their conversion.  It doesn’t end there, though.  Now God uses the gospel to transform us day by day as we develop our relationship wth Him.  And so we teach them diligently how to have a living, active, true relationship with their Savior God. 


I hope you’re catching a big theme in this.  We must live the gospel every day before our children.  We are living examples of His love for them.  But we must also be speaking the gospel daily.  Every choice we make for our children needs to be based in the gospel.  How will this draw my child closer to God?  What will my child learn about God from this?  And then talk it through with your kids.  “Repetition is learning.”  As we live and speak the gospel into our children’s lives the Holy Spirit connects those moments to their hearts until they reach the point of conversion.  


I know you would all agree with me.  The eternal salvation of my children is the most important thing in their lives and mine.  After losing my first baby I decided that I would rather lose my children early and know they are with the Savior than to raise them here on earth and lose them for eternity.  I would rather never have children than give life to an eternal soul that would reject Christ and live forever in hell.  I know those are strong words, but this is what brought me to the transforming point of believing that parenting must be the gospel.  Without it there is no purpose in having children at all.  


We are not responsible for the salvation of our children.  I understand this.  But we are responsible for clearly and consistently living and communicating the gospel with them.  Each child will make their own choice.  But when I stand before God I want to stand there with the confidence that I did everything possible to lead my child to Him.  I want no regrets.  And so I am praying for you and your children just as I am praying for me and mine.  I want this to be an encouragement to you.  This should also be a call to action.  We are in this together.  Find ways to encourage the other parents around you.  Brainstorm together ways to live and share the gospel with your kids. I would love to hear any ideas that have helped you.  Share with me resources that have shaped your parenting.  Send me an email or leave a comment here.  I’m always wanting to learn more.  If you would like I will share some of the resources we compile in a future post.  


It was one of those days.  One of those days where it seemed like our fervent prayers and best efforts all seemed to be wasted.  Hours, days, months, and years of trying to shepherd his heart, but it doesn’t seem to change a thing.  Consistent biblical discipline that doesn’t seem to make a difference.  Not one hour of this day went without a battle.  I was so frustrated, deeply disappointed, so very sad, exhausted, and, I have to admit, I was very angry.  And I was done. Through.  FINISHED!  I hit a wall.


What were we thinking?!  We can’t do this.  It’s too hard.  It’s not worth it.  All these battles are just tearing us up, not building us up.  And it’s not even changing his life.  As much as I hate to admit it I started wondering if we could just give him back and be through.  We tried.  We did our best, but it didn’t work.  And so, on that day I went to bed utterly defeated.  

God’s Word is like sweet nectar to the starving, thirsty soul.  The next morning I woke up and started praying.  What passage was I going to journal through today?  And as I prayed I remembered the preaching on James chapter 1 in church, and a friend who is trying to memorize the entire book of James.  So, James chapter 1 it was.  I got to verse number 4 and I had to stop.  “… the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have it’s perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  


ENDURANCE.  That one word hit me hard.  I love to run.  I’m kinda weird about it.  And when I’m training for a race it takes endurance.  I hit a wall.  A point where I am frustrated, disappointed, sad, exhausted, angry, and done!  I want to quit.  What was I thinking?  I can’t do this!  It’s too hard.  it’s not worth it.  I just want to get a milkshake!  But, when I push through that wall there is victory, freedom, joy, accomplishment, and a new understanding of myself.  


God was showing me the same thing applied to this precious child.  We aren’t adopting him only for his benefit, but for ours.  The “testing of [my] faith” that will produce endurance in my life.  Wow!  So simple, yet it was just what I needed.  Endurance is going to have it’s perfect result in my life.  But what about his?  Can I trade my “perfect result” and give it to him?  That would make life so much easier!  


And written in my margins was the quote, “When duty becomes delight, burdens become blessings.”  Being his mother had become a duty and a burden in my life, and it was miserable.  I remembered back to the beginning when I was so idealistic and thought with the right love everything was going to be wonderful.  Being his mother was a delight and a blessing.  


Endurance.  The one simple, yet incredibly difficult, word that turned my heart and mind around. I was tired.  I AM tired.  I was frustrated.  In many ways I still am.  I was disappointed.  Yup, still am.  I was so very sad, and yes, I still am.  And I was finished!  No more!  Done!  Quit!  See ya!  But not anymore.  The dear Lord had changed my perspective.  Endurance.  I need to stick it out.  Keep being faithful.  Not grow weary in well doing.  Allow endurance to have it’s perfect result in my life.  His heart and his behavior may not change, but mine has.  I need to focus on the delights and the blessings, not allow myself to be overwhelmed with the frustrations.  But I would still like to get that milkshake.  

P.S.  This was written some months ago as we were struggling through a particularly difficult time with our son.  My prayer is that my experience will be an encouragement to some of you doing through difficult times.  

Praise the Lord, I can say that we have seen dramatic improvement in our son through the work of God in his life.  And I'm seeing dramatic improvement in me through the work of God in my life.


Homeschooling can be such a touchy topic.  Let me just start by saying that I grew up in the public school system in the US.  I had many amazing teachers who inspired, encouraged, and pushed me.  There are still many amazing teachers in the school systems today who are doing the same day after exhausting day.  I am so very thankful for them.  They are shaping lives in very important ways that they may never realize or see fruit from.  They are faithful, hardworking, sacrificing, and ministering to the souls of their students, not just their minds.  Thank you for all you do.  


I also want to point out that every family and every family situation is different.  Some are very happy with their kids in traditional school.  That is perfect for them.  Some wish they could do something different but jobs or finances just won’t allow it.  Others homeschool but with vastly different philosophies and methods than we do.  That is wonderful.  We each have to do what is best for our families.  There is beauty in that.  And I cheer you all on.  We are all in the trenches of parent-hood together.  We need to encourage each other, not judge each other for doing what we believe is best for our families.  


When my oldest child was still quite young my husband and I started discussing our educational desires for her.  We had our own lists of pros and cons for public school, private school, and homeschool.  We spent a lot of time in prayer and I spent a lot of time in research.  We knew that we wanted to eventually move to Africa as missionaries and so we decided to jump into homeschooling.  


I ordered my curriculum that I had carefully researched.  I set up a little desk for her with all the school supplies I remembered having to buy as a child.  And I sat her in that little desk every day and we did workbook after soul sucking workbook.  She was learning, but we were both miserable.  My youngest child was two and my middle was three, so chaos reigned in our home.  In my mind I had to replicate a school classroom in my home for her to be “educated”.  At that time it wasn’t possible and very nearly killed us all.  


I had to let go of my view of education and understand that education is not the same thing as learning.  I started researching how children learn and the different stages of childhood development.  I started researching the different methods of homeschooling.  Through the years we have evolved in the way we teach our kids.  I’ve had so many moments of “I wish I knew then what I know now”, and “if I could go back and do it all over again”.  


I have a strong conviction that as a parents our purpose is to disciple our children into people who will live well, love God, and serve others.  These priorities can only be accomplished with time and intentional effort.  I also believe that God gave them to us as parents to do this job.   We only get to raise our kids once.  We need to make sure that we take every opportunity God provides us to invest into our kids hearts and lives.  I know we all as parents have this conviction and do our best to fulfill it in the ways God enables us to.  For us, God has enabled our family to be able to homeschool and so we believe this is best for us.   


I love being with my kids every day.  I love watching them grow and develop and hear their thoughts and their hearts.  Then I love being able to speak scripture and truth into each of these areas.  I love getting to instill in them a lifelong passion to learn new things and teach them the skills to teach themselves. This is the philosophy behind our homeschooling.  Character development and a passion for learning.  All our curriculums are chosen to strengthen these two areas.  All our extra curricular activities are chosen to strengthen these two areas.  If it doesn’t, we don’t do it.  


There are many practical reasons for why we homeschool.  We live in Africa and the government school systems are not up to US educational standards.  We don’t have the finances to enroll our kids into an international school.  But beyond all this, we love being able to be an intimate part of our kids education and development.  It is a joy and a blessing that we do not take for granted.  

Embracing the Wilderness

Journaling through the book of Exodus has made this book just come alive to me.  I strongly suggest that if you don’t journal through scripture that you start.  It’s such an exciting experience with the Lord.  It’s looking like it’s going to take me forever to get through this book, but I’m willing to take it slow and soak in all God has for me.  God speaks through His word.  He reveals so much of who He is through the book of Exodus. 


At the end of Exodus chapter two we see these words in verse 25, “God saw the people of Israel - and God knew.”  This verse alone is life changing.  The same God who saw the Israelites is the same God who sees us.  You and me.  He sees our sorrows and our joys. 


But those last three words of Exodus 2:25, “and God knew”.  Such enormity wrapped up in three simple words.  God knew their sufferings.  God knew their pain.  God knew what was happening.  God knew His power.  God knew His plans.  God knew exactly what He was going to do and what was going to happen to His people.  


We have the same God today.  He sees your life and He knows.  Everything.  Past, present and future.  He knows!!  Such hope and joy in three tiny words!  No matter what we are facing right now, God sees and He knows.  He has a plan for our sufferings.  Part of His plan is the revelation of Himself to us as we experience Him in our hard times.  


As we enter into chapter three we see how God reveals Himself to us through times of suffering.  This is the famous account of Moses and the Burning Bush.  I haven’t even gotten through all of it, but just what I’ve journaled so far is comforting and exciting.  


Moses is shepherding his father-in-law’s flock.  As he is climbing Horeb, the mountain of God, God reveals Himself to Moses in a bush that is burning but not consumed by the fire.  It piques Moses’ interest and he decides to investigate.  Then God speaks to Moses out of the burning bush.  


He says in Exodus 3:5-8, 

“Then he said, ‘Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’  And he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’  And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.  

Then the Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters.  I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivities, and the Jebusites.’”


Through this conversation with Moses God is revealing so much of Himself to Moses and to us.  It’s incredibly exciting.  Let’s look at it and be amazed together.  


He starts out by revealing His holiness.  One of the most important things we must understand about our God.  Understanding and believing His holiness is a foundational aspect of understanding more about Him.  He is perfect in all ways.  He is without sin.  He is unique, above all others.  When we see God’s holiness and understand who we are in relation to Him all we can do is what Moses did, hide our faces in our sinfulness and shame.  This is the beginning of a true relationship with God.  Understanding and admitting that He is holy and I am sinful.  


Next God reveals His faithfulness.  As the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob He has faithfully kept His promises to them and will continue to be faithful to His chosen people.  The God that provided a child to an old and barren couple just as He promised is the same God who keeps His promises in our own lives.  The God who brought Isaac down from the mountain of sacrifice and provided a ram in his place is the same God who is our Jehovah Jireh and will always provide for us.  The same God who wrestled with Jacob in the wilderness and saved him through the son he believed was dead is the same God who protects and sustains our lives.  He has been faithful throughout all history and He will continue to be faithful now and for all eternity.  We can trust Him.  


We have a God who sees, hears, and knows our sufferings.  He is a sympathetic and just God.  We are never alone in the difficulties of life.  God is always there with us.  Most of the time in scripture when we see the word “know” it means much more than an intellectual awareness, it means an experiential knowledge.  God doesn’t just have an intellectual awareness of our sufferings.  He experiences it with us.  He sees our circumstances, He hears our cries and prayers, and He experiences our sufferings with us.  We are never alone.  


Our God is a God of mercy and grace.  We have a God who withholds the punishment we justly deserve and instead bestows upon us blessings.  Just as He came down to deliver the Israelites out of the hand of the Egyptians He comes down to deliver us out of our difficult circumstances.  The Israelites had been slaves for a very long time.  God delivered them in His perfect timing.  Now was the time.  He doesn’t always deliver us when we want Him to, but because He is faithful He will do it when the time is right and we can trust Him in it.  


We serve a God of hope and blessings.  He promises to deliver the Israelites out of slavery and take them into a land of blessing.  As we come to know our God and follow Him he leads us out of slavery to sin and self and takes us into the freedom of hope and blessing.  We look forward to the someday of our Promised Land, but as we wander in the wilderness of this life, following Him, we can enjoy the blessings God pours out on us and live with hope of the coming blessings and joys.    


God is powerful and purposeful.  He has a perfect plan for each of our lives.  He revealed His plan for the Israelites.  He would deliver them from Egypt and take them to a land of blessing.  He also purposefully mentions the inhabitants of the land of blessing.  He knows that entering and possessing that land will not be easy.  He has a plan.  Not an easy plan, but a perfect plan.  He is going to walk with His people every step of the way through the wilderness and go before them into every battle to possess this land He has promised them.  We can trust God’s plans for us.  We can walk with Him knowing He goes before us to prepare the way.  


This is just the beginning for Israel.  And it’s an exciting beginning.  As God leads them through the wilderness to the Promised Land He is going to reveal Himself to His people as He never has before.  They are going to see Him in mind blowing ways.  It is truly awe inspiring.  While they were in Egypt the Israelites could only see their suffering and oppression.  God delivers them, but doesn’t immediately take them to the land of blessing. He takes them into the wilderness where there will be no distractions and complete reliance upon Him.  And it is in this place that He shows them who He is.  


The same is true for us.  Many times it is a spiritual wilderness.  Sometimes it is a physical wilderness.  God takes us through these wilderness experiences so we come to a place of complete dependence upon Him.  And it is in these times that He reveals Himself to us as never before.  We get to truly see Him and know Him.  He never promised that our lives would be easy.  If you honestly look at scripture He promises the exact opposite.  But He also promises that we will not walk through the wilderness alone.  He walks beside us and goes before us revealing Himself to us in ways that make the wilderness holy, beautiful, and precious.  


We need to embrace the wildernesses that we journey through in life.  As we embrace them we must keep our eyes and our hearts open to experience God in new and exciting ways.  The wilderness is desolate, but it’s the perfect place to see God.  Faith is not a feeling.  Faith is believing God is who He says He is even when we don’t feel it.  Faith is trusting in His promises.  Walking through the wilderness with God strengthens our faith and broadens our understanding of who He is.  The wilderness is a precious place. 

The Rest of the Story

The story of surrender in Moses’ mother’s life doesn’t end with the basket in the river.  As I journaled through the rest of the story this morning the Lord just kept on speaking!  Let’s look at the last few verses in this part of the story.  


Exodus 2:7-10  Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call for you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?”  And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.”  So the girl went and called the child’s mother.  And Pharaohs daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.”  So the woman took the child and nursed him.  When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son.  She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”


Again… wow!  This mother is one amazing woman; an example to all of us.  God returned her son to her for a short time.  She knew she was going to have to surrender him again.  Let’s put ourselves in her place again and see what God has for us to learn.  She did not get the full story at once as we did.  All she knew was her God’s faithfulness in that moment.  


I can imagine that as she rushed back home with her precious baby she was wracking her brain trying to think of ways to hide and keep him.  But that would be impossible.  He was the only boy baby among the Hebrew people.  As he grew it would become obvious.  And so she had to surrender again to the God who had just proven His faithfulness to her.  She saw how He had saved her baby from the river.  God’s answer to her desperate prayers had strengthened her faith.  The very fact that her son was alive and returned back to her for a time gave her confidence that God had a big plan for this child’s life.  


And so, for the short time she had, she prayed over him, spoke truth over him and to him even though he was too young to understand.  I’m sure that many months before she had circumcised and named him on the eighth day of his life in obedience to the Law.  And she continued to follow God’s Law and their customs in his life as long as she would have him.  She stored every moment in her heart knowing she will have so few of them.  Just like for us, the time passed quickly, but she continued to nurse him for as long as she could.  


Then came the day of surrender.  The day of his adoption.  As she placed him into the hands of Pharaoh’s daughter she was placing him again into the hands of the Lord.  How her heart must have broken.  She was not only surrendering his physical life this time; she was surrendering his eternal life as well.  If he had died in that river a year before he would have gone to be with the Father, but now she was surrendering her son to be raised in a pagan household to worship false gods.  


For the rest of her life her heart and her arms would ache for this special child.  But she had resolve and faith in her God.  She would pray every day, all day, for him.  She would lay her broken heart, empty arms, and her child at the foot of God’s throne and trust in Him, her faithful God.  


At the moment she surrendered her son into Pharaoh’s daughter’s hands he was given a new name - an Egyptian name.  Moses, because he was drawn out of the water.  The very water he was named after was a god to the Egyptian people.  To the Hebrews it was a water of death, sorrow, and misery.  Later it would be a key element in the final showdown between God and Pharaoh, and Moses would be a key player in that showdown.  But in Moses God defeated the death, sorrow, and misery of this river to give life out of it.  He is going to use this child, named after this river, to oppose and defeat this river god, and deliver His people.  God had a plan, but this mother could not see it.  She just had to trust in Him.  


We don’t hear anything else about Moses’ mother.  I’m assuming she died before Moses’ surrender to the Lord and the deliverance of her people.  She never got to see the fulfillment of God’s plans, not just for Moses, but for her other children as well.  She trusted God with the most precious people in her heart in the midst of the unknown.  She could not save her child by holding on to him.  She could only save him by surrendering him into the hands of God.


How true is this for us as mothers here and now?  I have heard mothers tell me that they are afraid to surrender their children to the Lord because if they do something bad might happen.  I completely understand that crazy momma bear love we have for our children.  We would face death, the very gates of hell itself, to save our children… but we can’t.  We are under the delusion that as long as we hold on and hold them close we can keep them safe.  But this is not true.  It is truly a delusion.  


Mommas, we have a loving God; a faithful God.  Our God created all that there is with the breath of his voice and sustains it all with His will.  He is the Creator of our children and His love for them is far beyond anything we could ever comprehend.  He created them with a purpose and plan for their lives.  And then He gave them to us for a short time to love them, care for them, and raise them to love and serve Him.  Our children are not truly ours, they are His.  The only way we can keep them safe is to surrender them into His hands.  


Let’s be mothers of faith who teach our children who God is through our actions and our words.  Let’s be mothers of resolve as we daily raise our children through the good and difficult times.  Let’s be mothers of surrender who place our children in the hands of the Father.  We may never see the fulfillment of God’s plan for our children, but we can trust Him to complete the good work He has begun.  We can not save our children by holding on to them.  We must surrender them to our faithful, loving, sovereign God.  Let go, mommas, and watch God do His thing.  It’s beautiful.  

Moses' Mother

I recently started journaling through Exodus and I’m really excited about it.  There is something about journaling through scripture that gives me time to think, and process, and for the Lord to speak to me.  It takes me much longer to get through each book than I anticipate, because I will get caught up in the Scriptures and what God is showing me that I take my time and soak it all in. I’m in Exodus chapter two, and I’m so excited about what God is teaching me I just wanted to share it with you.  


It’s a story we all know well.  The Israelites are slaves in Egypt and have grown in number and in strength.  The Pharaoh is concerned about the strength of his slaves and so attempts to curb their population by having the midwives murder every baby boy born to them.  The midwives fear God more than Pharaoh so they arrive late at every birth and the baby boys are saved.  (I loved this part of the story!)  Fast forward a generation and Pharaoh has again decided to curb the population of the Israelites and orders every baby boy thrown into the Nile River.  


It is here we meet Moses’ mother.  Let me share with you Exodus 2:1-6

Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman.  The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months.  When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bullrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch.  She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds at the bank.  And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.  

Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river.  She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it.  When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying.  She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrew’s children.”


Wow!  What a woman! As I was reading this I couldn’t help putting myself in this mother’s place.  To be expecting a child at this time would be a very difficult experience.  You would have no idea until the birth of that child whether you would be able to raise your daughter or be forced to murder your son.  I can imagine as a mother she had been devising this plan since she realized she was pregnant.  Think about the dread and fear that must have been in her heart when she gave birth to a baby boy! Thankful that she had a plan, but she also dreaded the implementation of that plan.  


And so, with the words, “It’s a boy” she resolved in the depths of her very being to save her chid and put her plan into action.  She had her plan in place for how to hide the child and I’ve no doubt her family agreed and helped her.  Perhaps she had neighbors and friends who were in on it as well.  I’m sure there were many moments of near discovery those first few months.  But all of them with joyful, yet heavy hearts working together to protect this tiny child.  They had no idea they were delivering their deliverer.  


When the child became too old to hide she knew it was time for phase two of her plan.  She had carefully woven herself the basket she was going to use; not too small knowing he was going to grow, not too big because his very life depended upon concealment.  Praying as she wove each strand, hoping with all her heart that she would never have to use it for it’s intended purpose.  Maybe she had finished it months ago and used it to hide him around the house so he would feel comfortable in it before she had to surrender him.  But now the time had come.  She meticulously daubed it with what she knew would make it waterproof and safe.  She tested it in a tub of water praying over every step of her preparations.  


Maybe she chose a specific day.  Maybe she woke up one morning and knew deep in her heart that it was time.  In my mind she bathed him gently and carefully as her tears mingle with the bath water.  She nursed him one last time cherishing his gentle breath on her breast and the sounds of his sucking.  She counted one last time his precious fingers and toes.  She memorized his sweet chubby cheeks and tiny nose, storing them up in her heart.  Then she wrapped him tightly in soft clean blankets praying over him and committing him into the hands of the only One who can save him.  She rocked him to sleep so he will be quiet on the trip to the river.  All this time her heart breaking yet hopefully trusting in her God.  Solemnly she placed him in the basket.


Perhaps she had chosen the spot in the river many months before.  Each time she walked past praying over it.  She chose it strategically, praying and hoping for the salvation of her child.  Perhaps she knew the princess would be sympathetic towards her child.  She would have watched and known the schedule of the princess and knew she would be there that day.  With fear and faith mingled in her heart she opened the basket for one last glimpse.  One last kiss, soaking in that sweet baby scent as she firmly closed the lid and sets the basket in the river among the reeds.  She made sure it is hidden to passers by, but visible to the princess’ bathing spot.  She left her daughter as guard, kissed her, and reminded her to be diligent in her watch.  With one last look she rushed home to pray and wait.  


How heavy her heart must have been.  But what faith she displayed!  What an incredible woman!!  Mommas, this is how we must approach our parenting.  With the same faith and surrender.  We must be intentional about the way we raise our children.  We must make wise choices for our children.  We must fight for our children and protect them, raising them in the world but not of it.  And with faith, sometimes fear, we must surrender them into the hands of the only One who can save them.  His plans and purposes for our children are far beyond what we could ever imagine.  He may not use them to deliver His people from oppression and slavery, but He will use them to lead others to the Deliverer of their souls.  Even in the hard and hopeless times God has a plan that we can trust and follow.  There is always hope in Christ.  


Mommas, let’s be women filled with intentional faith for our children.  Let’s be an example of determination and strength as we rely on the Lord.  And then, let’s surrender our children into the hands of the Lord and watch with hope as we see His plans for them fulfilled.  Our God is faithful and good.  Surrendering our children to Him is the best thing we could ever do for them.  

Conservation Hunting

Conservation hunting. Some people would try to say it’s an oxymoron, but it is in reality a very valid and important part of our taking care of the earth God has given us. Overpopulation of herds of animals in a confined space such as a wild game preserve or game farm is a dangerous problem for everyone involved. There is increased territorial fighting among animals that leads to life threatening injuries, insufficient food resources for all the animals that leads to starvation and sickness, the spread of diseases among herds that leads to slow and miserable deaths. There is increased danger for the people who live and work in these areas as they come into contact with these animals more often than they should and when provoked they can become deadly. The earth itself becomes overburdened with providing food and water for these overpopulated herds. Everyone suffers.


Oxford defines conservation as: the prevention of wasteful use of a resource; preservation, protection, and restoration of the natural environment and of wildlife. In a situation as previously stated to let things remain as they are would not be within this definition of conservation. It is a wast of a resource. It is allowing the natural environment and wildlife to be destroyed.


How can hunting be called conservation? Let’s take a look at it. In Genesis 2:15 God puts Adam in the Garden of Eden to tend it and take care of it. Later in verse 28-30 God tells Adam that He is giving him control over every thing that moves on the earth. This was before the fall of sin in chapter three. There was no death, hunting or eating of meat when God gave this command to Adam. God expected Adam to take care of His creation… to conserve it.


Sadly we do not live in the world Adam lived in when he received these commands. We live in a world of sin and death, but we still have the same mandate from God. We are to take care of His creation and conserve it. God has given us one earth for us to live on and enjoy for His glory. Caring properly for His creation and the resources He has given us brings glory to Him.


I won’t get into the theological details, but later in scripture God gave His people permission to eat meat. He commanded them to offer sacrifices to Him and to eat a portion of that meat. The deaths of those animals was a proper use of the resources God had given them. Without going through the step by step I’m going to jump back into the topic of hunting.


God has given us the mandate to care for these animals of the earth. When they are underpopulated and endangered we should protect them and take care of them. But the same is true when they are overpopulated. Responsible hunters who work along side of game management and conservation work to control herd sizes so that the animals can thrive in their environment. The taking of select animals can create a stronger and healthier herd over time. The smaller herds then nourish the environment instead of destroying it. Where we live local people can not afford to eat red meat regularly. This conservation hunting also provides much needed meat to the locals and strengthens them. The smaller herds also provide a safer place for the people caring for them to live.


As missionaries we are always teaching our children that every person is created in the image of God. Each life is precious and Jesus died to save each of their souls. Everyone should be treated with respect and given the opportunity to hear and see the loving salvation God offers them. But we think it is important to teach them to take care of this beautiful Earth God has provided for them and hunting is a part of that.


We are thankful that we are able to partner with amazing game management personnel here in Africa to help them take care of the animals put in their care. Because of the nature of conservation hunting, not trophy hunting (which we also do), usually the cost is very little. We buy the meat we keep and the rest is kept by the people thereby also helping the people financially. It’s a fun and exciting way of being part of the conservation of resources in our local area. And another reason we love living in Africa!


This is a story of how God poured out His grace in our lives in a tremendous way, completely transformed who we are and our view of Him, altered our future for all eternity, and blessed us more than we ever thought possible.  This is the story of Grace.  Our Grace.  An experience we never would have chosen, but never want to give back.  This is a story of pain and heartache, but also a story of joy and hope.  And I pray that this story would bring glory to God and touch those of you who have experienced similar circumstances in your life or know someone who has.  


As many of you know, over the years my husband and I have had two miscarriages, one stillbirth, three heathy children, and adopted one child. That’s our family in a nutshell.  It has not been an easy journey, but it has been one very worth taking.  Even a journey we would willing take all over again.   


I’ll start at the beginning and try to make it as short as possible.  We got married in January 2001.  Jamie was finishing up college and I was working full time.  We had no money… and I mean, no money.  A year after we were married we decided to stop preventing pregnancy, but not try either.  Just going to leave it in God’s hands.  Ten months later I was pregnant.  We were so nervous and excited.  We went for our first doctor appointment and then told the family.  A week later the Lord took our baby Home with him and my pregnancy ended in miscarriage.  Our hearts were broken.  It was the day before Thanksgiving and we were struggling.  We decided to start trying again right away.  A year later I was still not pregnant.  A few months and an ovulation test later we were pregnant again.  Our nervous, anxious hearts surrendered this baby to the Lord knowing it’s life was in His hands.  After a dream pregnancy and delivery we held our precious daughter, Lorelei, in our arms and wept.  I was ready… we were ready to do it again, right away.  


Three months later we were pregnant again.  This pregnancy started with a move to a different state as my husband took an associate pastor position.  I started spotting and put myself on bedrest (or as close as I could get) the day we moved.  I knew that if the Lord wanted to take this baby Home I couldn’t stop Him, and if I was still pregnant after we settled in I would find a good high risk OBGYN.  A few weeks later, as far as I knew, I was still pregnant.  The Lord directed me to the most amazing doctor.  The baby had a heart beat and seemed to be perfectly healthy.  We breathed a huge sigh of relief.  


I was so excited!  I had wanted to have my children as close in age as possible so they would grow up close together.  Thirteen months apart seemed perfect to me.  We settled into our new home and church enjoying our baby in our arms and our growing family.  It was time for my 18 week ultrasound where we would find out if we were having a boy or a girl.  I woke up that morning with a heavy heart.  I felt the Lord whispering to me that this was not going to go as we had planned, but perfectly as He had planned.  Little did I know He had whispered the same to my husband.  


At the doctors office they took me back by myself to do the medical check-up part of the ultrasound and then they were going to bring Jamie back for the gender reveal.  As soon as the ultrasound technician put the wand on my belly she quickly turned the computer screen away from me, and I knew.  Something is wrong with my baby.  Possibilities started pouring through my imagination.  I knew we could handle raising a special needs child.  We could even enjoy raising a special needs child.  


The ultrasound technician called my doctor in.  One glimpse at the screen and he said, “Amanda, we have a big problem.  I need to get you to see a specialist right away.  This is too big for me to handle.”  I was so thankful for his blunt, humble honesty.  They called Jamie back and started to show us what they had seen on the screen.  Under-formed and missing internal organs, missing brain matter, serious issues with our baby’s development.  

The next week we drove to the capitol to see the specialist. They did ultrasounds and tests and then told us they would inform us in a week.  That week we had planned a vacation at the beach with family.  It was a much needed distraction but also time to prepare our hearts and process.  Our family knew everything we knew and were so kind and encouraging.  Finally the results came back.  Our child had a very rare genetic disorder.  Unless the Lord chose to do a miracle this baby would not survive outside my womb.  It made every moment beyond precious.  I treasured and soaked in every kick and movement.  I prayed continually all day, every day, that God would heal my baby.  Jamie would lay his head on my belly to feel it’s kicks and soak them in as we would pray.  Countless people were praying along with us.


Nine weeks later the doctor confronted me with a choice I never thought I would have to make.  This baby was growing much faster than it should have been and I had no amniotic fluid.  At a certain point it would become life threatening for me to carry this baby and we would have to decide when to take it’s life.  When that time came we would have to do a c-section because the baby would be too large for me to deliver naturally.  We couldn’t make such a heart wrenching decision!  This was our baby!  We discussed and prayed and decided that we would leave that decision up to the doctor.  When he said it was time… it was time.  


Day after day, week after week we had prayed continually.  Weekly doctor appointments with no good news, long trips to the specialist where nothing new was determined.  The Lord had not given us peace that He was going to heal our baby, but He had given us His presence.  He went into every ultrasound with us and held us through it.  His Spirit gave us strength and understanding of the hope He had in store for our precious child.  And so we crawled up into our Father’s lap, buried our heads in His chest, and let Him comfort and carry us through.  It was all we could do.  


A week later I lay in bed while Jamie was getting ready for work.  I had another doctors appointment that day.  I was exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  It had been a very long ten weeks.  It was painful to be pregnant without amniotic fluid.  I couldn’t enjoy or care for Lorelei as I had hoped for because I was always in pain.  I couldn’t do anything.  I was done!!  I couldn’t handle it anymore.  After Jamie left I laid there and cried begging God to do something, anything, because I couldn’t handle any more.  


At the doctor that day we encountered a scenario that we had never imagined.  I was going into early labor!  We were so thankful that we wouldn’t have to decide to end our child’s life.  I immediately went into preparations for delivery.  My doctor had explained that because of the genetic disorder her body could fall apart during labor and that would kill me so we opted for a c-section.  We may not get to have her with us for very long, but we wanted to hold her body whole.  Through research we also learned that life outside my womb before death would be an agonizing experience for the baby.  We started praying for a stillbirth.  We knew our baby wouldn’t live long and we didn’t want to watch it suffer.  We wanted our child to go from my womb to the arms of God.  I didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, so I bought a white crocheted blanket and a dear friend quickly crocheted me a baby hat to match.  


Around midnight it was go time.  We rushed to the hospital preparing for a c-section and praying for a stillbirth.  Labor went too fast for the c- section and I had to deliver naturally.  My heart was broken.  But God was so good to us.  Our daughter died during delivery.  She didn’t suffer one second, but went straight to the arms of God.  Her body stayed in tact so we were able to hold her and take pictures and have the closure we so desperately needed.  After a scare the Lord preserved my life.  Through it all He poured out His grace in our hearts in ways we could never have anticipated.  


During the ten weeks of pregnancy after Grace’s diagnosis God’s people rallied around us.  We had people praying for us daily all over the world.  Our families held us close and walked through it with us.  To be honest, I was never afraid.  The entire time I had peace.  I knew my God was in control.  I knew His plan was perfect.  I knew I could trust Him.  God’s grace became tangible the day we held our baby girl.  On the outside she was perfect in every way.  Her tiny fingers and toes, her soft skin.  Before she was born we had decided to name her Grace, just Grace, because of what God was revealing to us through her pregnancy.  We wanted her name and her short life to be a testimony to our merciful, loving, Gracious God. 


Two weeks from today we will celebrate her 13th birthday.  Every year we celebrate her birthday as a family.  We bake a cake, look through her pictures, read her story, and imagine what our family would be like if she had lived.  We discuss what it would be like to grow up in heaven.  The other children know they have a sister in heaven and it has made heaven more real to us all.  


Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.  She is in my heart, a part of me.  She always will be just like my other children are.  Most days thoughts of her are sweet, but every once in a while I just need her.  Holding my other children doesn’t calm the hurt in my heart and arms.  I wish God would send her back down to me, just for a few minutes, so I could snuggle and kiss and love on her, then I would give her right back.  I used to hate those days, but they have become precious to me.  Over the years memories have faded.  I forget so much of that experience that sometimes I wonder if it was all a dream.  But then the hard days hit and it makes her real to me again.  That makes the pain precious.  Someday I will hold her in my arms in the presence of our Savior.  Until then, my heart holds her memory and the hope of that sweet someday.







Our New Home

Putting Down Roots

The missionary life is a life of changes.  Constant changes.  We change friends as people constantly come and go.  We move constantly even if it’s just changing houses in the same city.  Our ministries are constantly changing as well.  New ministry partners come, others leave and not just missionary partners, local partnerships as well.  The economy is usually unstable and so that brings constant changes. Many of us are also changing languages throughout our day.  Along with all the external changes we are constantly changing internally.  We are growing, learning, changing as we adapt to the culture we live and work in.  It’s kind of a theme of mission life.  


I grew up in a small town just outside of Cincinnati Ohio.  My husband grew up in the neighboring town.  Our parents grew up there.  Our grand parents grew up there.  For most of my life I went to the same school and church, lived in the same house, had the same friends.  Life was routine.  There was constancy and we had roots that went down deep.  


When we surrendered to the Lord and He called us to be missionaries we knew that our children would grow up very differently than we did.  No small town America with Founder’s Day carnivals and Easter parades.  No growing up with cousins and your best friend since kindergarten.  But we believed that the life we were entering was the best one for our children because God had called not only us, but our children to it as well.  We still believe that.  


The changes mentioned above are what is a daily norm for our children.  We have moved seven times in the last eight years.  One of those moves was from a house to a camper while we traveled around the U.S. raising support to move to Zambia.  One of those was an overseas move when we moved to Zambia.  One of those was cross country when we moved from southern Zambia to northern Zambia.  In the last three and a half years we have changed houses three times.  (Four if you count the time we spent living with a friend while we searched for a house of our own.)  We changed cultures and languages twice.  We adopted a son in the midst of this.  Along with change comes instability and insecurity.  


One of the verses we have clung to through all these changes is Psalm 121:8 “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”  No matter where the Lord takes us He goes before us, with us, an behind us.  


In the last couple of years we have been praying about where the Lord would have us long term, or even if He has plans for us anywhere long term.  We longed for a place to settle in and put down roots.  We longed for space and nature where our kids could run, play, and explore.  We longed for a sanctuary where we could escape the chaos of life and be restored for the work of each day.  At the same time we had chosen contentment wherever the Lord had placed us.  if it wasn’t in His plan for us to have a place of our own we had dreamed about we were okay with that.  This earth is not our home.  We look forward to our final destination.  


Last November the Lord miraculously made our dreams come true and with that He answered many prayers.  Through the overwhelming generosity of His people He provided us with our own home!  Through that we believe He answered our prayers about the long term.  We have a place to settle in and put down roots.  I hope the grandkids enjoy visiting us here.  We have space and nature where our kids run, play, and explore every day.  We have the sanctuary where we escape and are being restored.  Along with that we are using it for God’s glory for the ministry.  This house has an amazing history I will have to share with you sometime.  


We serve an amazingly intimate God.  He knows and feels the deepest longings in our hearts and He delights to fulfill them within His plan and will for us.  I sit here looking out the window at a tree house soon to be fixed so our kids and others can come and enjoy it.  The massive trees outside my window make my heart happy, and the variety of wildlife that comes with them is so satisfying.  My struggling little garden (I have a very brown thumb), small herd of chickens, and growing pack of goats (our first kid was born last week) are a delight I never thought I would have.  


My children have a place of security and stability.  They can settle in and run free without having to worry that we might move again in the next year.  This has quickly become their home.  My husband has a place where he can relax, study, plan, and prepare for the demands of life and ministry here.  I have a place where I can breath deeply, dream of the future, and settle in for the long haul.  All that combines for a long term, effective ministry here in Zambia.  


I can not express my deep gratitude for those of you who have encouraged, prayed, given, and blessed us through this house.  I wish I could bring each of you here and share with you what  delights us and brings us joy about our hew home.  The biggest is that we can use it for the glory of God as a place of restoration, encouragement, and discipleship for others.  I look forward to sharing with you all the ways God is gong to use this house and property.  Today I breath deep and say thank you.  



If you want more glimpses into our life here in Zambia I’m on Instagram as Zambiasmith.  If you want more information about our ministry my husband is Jamie Allen Smith on Facebook.  

Don't Blink

I think that all mothers have an idealistic picture in our hearts and heads of the kind of mother we aspire to be.  I know I do.  I remember watching mothers with their kids before I had my own and being judgy and thinking, “My kids would never…”  Fill it in.  Anyone else out there willing to raise their hands with me??  Lord, forgive me.  Whew!  


The truth is, being a mom is hard.  There are countless blogs and websites and songs, plays, symphonies, movies, musicals, paintings, books…  not sure about all of those, but I wouldn’t be surprised.  I think that because mothering is difficult many women start to wish this stage of their lives by.  “I can’t wait until my kids are in school.”  “I can’t wait until my kid is in college.”  “I can’t wait until my kids are out of the house.”  We have all heard it if we haven’t said/thought it ourselves.  I get it.  What we are really wishing for is a break.  A breather to relax and just rest. 


I think that we need to refocus as well.  As difficult as being a mom is it is also fleeting.  When our babies were born we had people tell us, “Don’t blink!”  How right they were.  As children we always wanted to be older.  As early teens we just wanted to drive.  Then we wanted to graduate high school and go to college.  Then we wanted to finish college and get married.  You know what I mean.  All of those were stages of life that centered on ourselves.  Now we are in a stage of life that isn’t all about us.  We are so used to longing for the next stage that now that we are in one of the most difficult we are wishing it away.  


This may be the most difficult, longest stage yet, but it also the most important.  We have the privilege and responsibility to shape the next generation for God’s use in this world.  We have a house full (or seems to be full) of little minions that steal our peace, time, sleep, spouse, food, and independence.  It won’t last long even though it feels like you’ll be in that stage forever.  That precious baby we held for the first time in our arms with tears in our eyes dreaming of the future is now that mouthy teenager we just can’t seem to connect with.  You’re almost done, Momma.  Don’t wish her away.  


Savor it.  Savor it all.  Every dirty diaper.  Every puky sickness.  Every tear and sniffle.  Every sleepless night.  Every tender kiss on the cheek.  Every pretty weed filled bouquet.  Every crayon drawing.  Every laugh.  Savor it.  All of it.  Don’t blink.  Not once.  Because you will never get to do it again.  We only get one chance.  


The stage we are in seems endless.  One day it will end.  Every stage ends to open into the next one.  I didn’t blink.  I did my best to savor every stage we have gone through.  Maybe losing half of my babies helped me savor the ones I got to keep.  My little minions are all grown up.  I miss them terribly.  Now they’re turning into teenagers.  I miss the little kids that they used to be, but I want to fully embrace who they are becoming.  I want to keep my eyes wide open.  I don’t want to look back some day and realized that I blinked and missed something.  



It takes a lot of hard work.  It takes a lot of patience.  It takes a lot of time.  It takes intentional effort.  But it is so worth it.  All of it.  The good days and bad are worth it all.  Be present, Momma.  Hang in there.  Stick it out.  Savor it all.  This stage will end and another will come.  Don’t wish it away, but find ways to enjoy it.  We are blessed to be mothers.  

Let's Keep Our Marriages Strong

I’m all about embracing the stages of life God brings us through.  I don’t want to live stuck in the past or dreading of the future.  I want to live fully in the here and now.  But as I am on the cusp of entering my 40s I’m starting to see some things about this stage of life that are causing me to become wary and concerned. 

One of the biggest is watching Christian marriages fall apart because of unfaithfulness.  Couples who I have watched truly love each other through the good, bad, and ugly have fallen apart and ruined their families. 

What is going on?  Why is this happening?  How can we prevent this?


As I’ve been journaling and observing the situations around me I’ve been praying deeply.  One thought has struck me pretty hard.  Stick with me while I explain my thought process.  


When we were young (especially if you grew up in my circles)  we were always cautioned to guard our hearts and to live in obedient submission to Christ and His Word.  We were told to have dating standards to protect ourselves and our future spouses.  We were held accountable and chaperoned.  Many of us did pretty well keeping our relationships right with God and others.  


Then we grew older, got married, and started families.  I think many of us reach a point where we look at our past successes and think we have got it all down right.  We have been faithfully married for 20ish years.  Our kids are turning out okay.  We are faithful to church.  We’ve got this.  It’s smooth sailing from here on out.  And then we let our guards down.  


When we let our guards down Satan creeps right in.  We let go of the small things first. 

We aren’t in the Word like we used to be. 

The kid’s sport schedules fall so often on Sundays, but missing a little church here and there won’t hurt.  We’ve gone to church all our lives.  Then other things start to slip. 

We’ve been happily married for years.  We are secure in our relationship.  We start letting slip the guards we’ve put in place to protect our marriage. 

Perhaps we are allowing influences into our hearts through media that we would have never allowed before we were married. 

All these things work together to weaken our defenses and suddenly we find ourselves in a place we never thought we would be in.  A broken marriage and broken family.  Regrets you will have to live with the rest of your life. 


First and most importantly we must maintain our relationship with God.  We must be in God’s Word every day.  We must be memorizing Scripture.  We must apply all we are learning to our lives.  Every day. 

We must be spending time in prayer with the Lord.  Resting in His presence and communicating with Him. 

We must be faithful to church and developing christian relationships where we will be fed, encouraged, and held accountable. 

We need to be doing devotions and praying with our spouse, encouraging each other in our walks with the Lord and our faithfulness to Him.  


Second only to our relationship with our Savior our marriage is the. most. important. relationship we have.  A good marriage doesn’t just happen.  And a good marriage doesn’t just stay good.  It takes constant work and constant tending. 

Through the years we grow and change as individuals.  We must be constantly studying our spouses and learning them. 

Continue to fall in love with your spouse over and over again.  Focus in on the good qualities they have and communicate that to them. 

Our love languages or the way we understand them shift as we go through different stages of life.  We need to be aware of this and adapt to it. 

Our communication needs change as we progress through life together and communication is vitally important for every marriage.  Be aware and adapt. 

All the guards that we put in place to protect our marriage are every bit as important now as they were when we were first married.  They are always important.  


Let’s stay strong!  If you’ve let things slip over the years take them back.  Invest in your relationship with God.  Invest in your marriage.  Those are two things you will never regret.  Be a living example of the mercies of God and His faithfulness.  


I am blessed.  I have a great marriage.  17 years into this it couldn’t be going any better.  But I don’t want to blow it.  I don’t want to ruin my marriage.  I don’t want to ruin my family.  I want to stay diligent and look back a the end of my life knowing that I have no regrets.  I lived life to the glory of God.  





Making Friends

In the right circumstances and with the right people friendship can be wonderful blessing in our lives.  But in different circumstances and with different people sometimes friendship can be hard. There are tons of wonderful blogs and articles about living internationally and the revolving door of friendships. And the reality is that it is hard.  Very hard.  Living internationally also means that there is a smaller pool of “friends” to choose from.  We live in a very small community that is constantly changing.  And the reality is that it is hard.  But regardless of where we live the friendships can be complicated.  

We have been blessed with amazing friends here in Zambia.  Friends who we would never have met State side.  Kindred souls who strengthen, bless, encourage, support, confront, and love us.  Friends who it is easy to be friends with.  We also have friends who are not so easy.  The differences are greater than the commonalities.  They are friends we have to work to be friends with.  

I would love to say that since we are adults we know how to do this friendship thing just fine.  We know how to get along with anyone.  But that isn’t always true.  

As parents we all desire for our kids to have good friends.  One of my daughters has been blessed with a few really good friends over the years.  One of my daughters struggles to find a good friend.  But my kids have encountered more hurtful “friends” than good ones especially as they get older.  

Our kids live watching us. They have the same friendship struggles we do, but on a much more immature level.  They are looking to us to understand how friendships work and how they are to develop relationships.  We are the ones who must teach our children to be good friends.  

I’m seeing that many of us as adults don’t know how to be good friends.  Many people don’t know how to be kind to others with no strings attached.  There are others who always take and never give.  Some who don’t realize that most of the things they say are hurtful.  There are people who always focus on themselves.  The ones that are always judging.  The list could go on.

We raise what we are. (Realize I’m speaking out of a place of conviction not condemnation.)  If we as parents are manipulative our children will be manipulative.  If we as parents are takers our children will do the same.  If we are self-centered our children will be too.  

We need to have a realistic view of who we are and how we treat others.  I know our view of self will always be partly skewed.  But there are ways of broadening our understanding of who we are.  There are two simple ones that pop off the top of my head.

  • Be in Scripture.  Honestly ask the Spirit to reveal to you who you are in light of what you read in God’s Word.  And then be willing to repent and submit to what He reveals to you.  
  • Ask someone who will be honest with you about how others perceive you.  Ask those same friends how you could be a better friend and more relatable to others.  Sometimes it’s not your closest friends who can honestly answer this.  They’ll be too nice.  You know the people who will tell it like it is.  Brave up and go to them. 


We have to live the way we want our kids to live.  

I want my kids to love others because God loves them.  Period.  For no other reason.  With no expectations.  

So, that’s how I have to love others.  

I want my kids to be the givers.  To live life with open hands.  To look around them for the needs of others and then do what they are able to meet those needs.  

I have to be a giver.  

I want my kids to be encouragers.  I want them to uplift and bless the people they come in contact with.  Like grandma always said, “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.”

I need to be an encourager.

I want my kids to be grace givers.  To be that we must realize that we are recipients of more grace than we could ever deserve.  And we need to extend the same amount of grace to others that we want them to extend to us.  

I have to be a grace giver.  

We all want our kids to be good friends to others regardless of how others treat them.  It’s not always easy.  Many times it hurts.  But they will never know how to treat others with love and respect unless we exemplify that for them with our lives.    








Aging with Grace

Aging Gracefully…  It’s a thought that has been on my mind a lot lately.  Being back in America and seeing all the commercials about anti-aging serums and lotions and treatments, etc. makes me want to look like all the women in the commercials.  And I think, “Whoa!  Wait a minute!  Aren’t I too young to be thinking about this?”  

But then I look in the mirror and see those few stray grays that refuse to blend in.  The beginning of crows feet at the corners of my eyes.  Neck wrinkles??!!  Already??!!  I look tired… and old…  My body no longer wants to lose weight after giving birth to 4 children.  It likes its chubbies.  And I think, “I want to age gracefully.” 

I have to ask myself, what does that mean?  What does that look like?  How does that manifest itself in my walk with the Lord and my daily life?  As I think about those questions I realize that I have to stop.  I have to stop comparing myself to the advertisements and other women.  I have to stop looking so closely in the mirror.  I have to stop focusing so much on my outer self, and I have to start looking at my heart.  

Aging gracefully is not all about looking like that older woman in the commercial with the body that is still in proportion, the stylishly cut grey hair, the trendy yet age appropriate clothes and hoping I look like her when that time comes.  It’s about living every day to it’s fullest for my Savior and my family.  It’s about not worrying about how chubby and frumpy I feel in pictures.  It’s about not criticizing my appearance around my kids (or at all - not easy).  It’s about accepting the aging yet taking the best care of the only body the Lord has given me for His use and glory.  It’s about abiding daily with my Lord and letting His fruit grow and show in me.  It’s about living peacefully with the changes the different stages of life bring, savoring and enjoying each one.  It’s about making memories with my family.  

When my children look back on their lives at home I want them to remember a mom who enjoyed life, made the most of every opportunity, was present in the moment, connected with them and built relationships with them.  And as they grow and go on to their own lives I want them to live that way too.  I want my husband to look back on our parenting years with fond memories of a family who loved life together, not of a wife who was always complaining about being fat and tired.  


I want to experience life, not just realize one day that it passed me by as I was worrying about my forehead wrinkles.  Since I’m going to have wrinkles I want them to be from laughing and smiling with my friends.  If I carry around those extra pounds I want them to be because I enjoyed that cheesecake while listening to my daughter pour her heart out to me.  If I’m going to look tired I want it to be because I was up late enjoying being married to my husband.  I want to enjoy this life the Lord has given me to the fullest investing in what is most important, the lives of those He puts around me.  

First Jumping Demonstration

The girls have finally reached the point with their horse riding skills where they can start to compete in jumping shows.  They’ve been working so hard week after week.  Sometimes even riding with malaria (mom fail).  I’ve been so proud of them.  They have a tremendous instructor.  She works beautifully with the girls and really pushes them to do their best within their skill level.  

Today the stables hosted a jumping demonstration.  

No competition.

Minimal stress.  

Lots of fun.  

It was wonderful practice for the girls jumping show in August.  They had to go over eight jumps (competition will be 10), perform before a crowd, perform before judges, and get the general feel for how a show will go.  

J was so nervous she almost backed out, but ended up doing an awesome job! My concern was that she wouldn’t remember what order the jumps went in, but her instructor went into the arena with her for support and she really did well.   

L was nervous as well with it being her first demo.  She went out there on her own, remembered all the jumps, had fun, and did so good!!   

Now to keep working so that they are ready for their upcoming competition.  I think they’re going to rock it!  

And of course I forgot my camera… Grrr.  

Next time… 


J jumping on Louie

L jumping on Alaska

Learning to Love

As we have entered into this adoption journey I had many expectations.  Most of which have proven accurate.  I expected that it would be a journey filled with many road bumps and reverses, and it has.  But I also expected it to go as the website so clearly and simply described step by step.  We have taken many of the steps over and over again.  I expected it to take time, but not this much time.  I expected extortion and corruption, and we have experience that!  But I expected a Spirit filled response that would bring the offender to repentance as they saw Jesus’ love lived through me.  Not even close.  I expected there to be growing pains in our family as my biological children adapted to having a new sibling.  That one has gone pretty much as I expected.  I expected there to be issues with bonding and attachment with our new son.  Boy, has that been true, but not in the ways I expected.  I expected that hurting, resentful, mean child that lashes out and makes life horrible for everyone.  The one that throws awful tantrums screaming, yelling, and flailing about.  

On the surface the “bonding” looked like it was going beyond our expectations.  In our first six months we were amazed at how easy it was.  But then we got a deeper look.  In reality the Lord did give us that hurting, resentful, mean child that lashes out and makes life horrible for everyone, but in a passive aggressive manner.  One who sits and simmers but doesn’t explode.  One who manipulates situations like a master con artist.  One who can torture the sibling sitting next to them while looking completely innocent and the victim while making the offended child look like the bully.  One that will exasperate us to no end without a shred of remorse or repentance.  We were given a child with “indiscriminate affection” who would go with a stranger in a blink of an eye and never miss us… even a year and a half later.  We were given a “trauma child” just as we expected who doesn't exhibit his trauma as we expected.   

I don’t read every book I lay my hands on about adoption, but only those that are recommended from people I respect who are speaking from their own personal experience.  And the ones I have read have been tremendously helpful.  But, as we were given this deeper look into our son and our family I found myself at a loss.  I have not found the resources out there to address the heart issues that we are battling with our son and as a result with our family as a whole.  

Let me explain.  For five years our son had to take care of himself.  For his very survival he had to love himself best, take care of himself best, make himself the most important person in his world.  He had to learn skills to get his deepest “love language” needs met.  He had to be self reliant emotionally and physically.  He has no concept of family or interdependent living.  He does not know what it means to truly love another person, only how to manipulate them to get his needs met.  He doesn’t know what it means or what it looks like to look on others as better than ourselves, or to treat others the way we want them to treat us.  

Most of the books I have read are very good at helping us communicate our love to our son, and they have been invaluable.  But I guess I just assumed that as we communicated our love to him he would just automatically learn how to show love back.  And he didn’t.  And at times I feel used and manipulated.  Our whole family does… except him.  As my oldest child put it, “The more love I show to him the more he uses it to hurt me.”  So, how do you teach a child what family is and what love is beyond living by example.  Where are the books on that??!!  

Then the Lord pierced my heart.  I’ve had the Book I’ve needed all along.  He wrote it just for me and my son.  He wrote it for this very situation.  I need to pour over it and take notes from it just like I did all the other books on adoption.  His Book is the ultimate book on adoption!  And so here I am.  My Bible and my notebook.  Begging God for wisdom.  Praying for the Spirit’s filling in my life each day to love this little boy and deliberately teach him how to love others.  Praying for the Lord to speak to his heart, in ways that I can’t, that he’s not alone anymore.  He has a FAMILY now.  A place where he is safe and loved and can let go of his self love and care and start caring for and loving others first.  Praying for watching eyes and attentive ears to see the situations that arise where I can best teach him that love is a choice and an action.  To help him make those choices and choose those actions.  And patience… boy, do I need patience.  Patience with him when he’s loving only himself.  Patience with my other children when they get fed up and react wrongly.  Patience with myself when I get fed up and react wrongly.  

Most days I feel as though I am talking to a rock.  A heart as hard and cold as stone.  A mind as hardened as a sun burned brick.  But I have hope.  I have a God who melts the hearts of stone and fills them with His love.  I have hope that as we live love before our son the Lord would be revealing His love to him in the ways he needs it most.  In ways we can’t understand.  And as we journey through this together God is revealing his love to each of us in ways we would not have experienced otherwise.  He gives us a perspective of His patient, steadfast love for us as we choose to patiently, steadfastly love our son.  Just that alone makes it worth it.  So, we will keep pouring over Scripture to learn more of what love is and how to love.  We will keep trying to live in ways that communicate love to him and to each other.  We will keep trying to take intentional opportunities to teach him how to love.  And we will keep trusting God to work His will and His best in our lives.

Aren't Your Kids Missing Out?!

I find it interesting the questions people ask me about raising my kids in Africa.  Some examples...

Aren't your kdis missing out?

Do your kids actually like living in Zambia?

What about social interaction?

And the list goes on...

Raising kids on the mission field certainly has it's own unique challenges, but it makes up for it in adventures, experiences, and seeing the world first hand.  

My children are growing up with a global perspective.  Their world is so much bigger than what is going on in just one country.  They are concerned about what is going on in the world.    

They are learning compassion first hand every day all around them.  They are constantly being presented with the need to help others and healthy ways to do that.   

They are growing up simply and slowly.  Their lives are not complicated by trivial matters, and they are not being pressured into growing up too fast.  They are learning what is really most important in life and savoring childhood.

They are growing up multi-culturally.  They have friends from all over the world.  Different cultures.  Different languages.  Different traditions.  Different colors.  They appreciate the differences and learn from them.  They are soaking all of this in and it is forming them in so many ways.    

Do my kids miss out?  Yes.  But so do your kids.  We can't give our kids everything, but we can teach them to appreciate what God has given them and where God has placed them by exemplifying that in our own lives.  

God is using all of us to raise our chilren right where He has placed us  for His glory.  He has individual purposes for each of our kids.  As parents we are called to invest in our children and disciple them no matter where we live.  We have the privilege of encouraging them to seek God and follow His plan for their lives.  

It's not about WHERE we raise our kids, but HOW we raise our kids.  Let's lead our children to the Savior and be faithful as we watch Him grow them into who He has created them to be.  

I am blessed to raise my kids in Zambia, but more importantly I am blessed to raise my kids.  And you are too.  Let's enjoy it and savor it.  We only get to do it once.  


Six Plates

As I was making dinner the other night I counted out six plates and pulled them down from the cupboard I flashed back to memories from the past. 

My husband and I always wanted a large family.  In 2005 a very rare genetic disorder changed the direction of our family.  We lost our daughter in a still birth.  The odds were not in our favor to have healthy children.  So after three healthy miracle babies, two miscarriages, and one still birth we prayerfully made the difficult decision to be done. 

Five plates.  That was it.  Every dinner setting five plates.  In my heart I wanted more.  For some reason six plates seemed like the perfect number.  The number that should have been.  Many summers our nephew would come spend some time with our family.  I got to set six plates for dinner.  It felt so good.  When he went home and we went back to five plates it was really sad for me.  I kept wishing he could just stay with us and round out our family.  The empty seat at the table many times causing me to imagine what could have been.

For six years it was five plates.  And for all those years I had been praying.  Just one more plate.  One more soul to love and nurture.  One more little body to snuggle and love.  And finally God said, “six plates”.  He brought our precious C into our lives.  Another soul to love and nurture.  Another body to snuggle and love.  

This sixth plate came cracked and broken.  People had not been careful or gentle with it.  Our hearts broke as well as we started to see the effects of these cracks in his heart and life.  And our prayers grew.  Our love grew.  As a family God is using us to mend these cracks.  I look at my other plates whole, shining, healthy, thriving and my heart aches even more for my little plate cracked, hurt, and confused… but slowly mending.  It’s a long slow process.  In the process we get small cracks in our own plates as well and we surrender ourselves into the Potter's hands and He gently mends us.  My son’s plate will never be the perfect, shiny plate my momma’s heart desires for him.  But I know my God, the Great Potter, can take something broken and mend it into a beautiful piece of art that reflects His glorious love and mercy.  

That is my prayer for all my plates, but especially for my boy.  As his hard heart tries so desperately to protect itself, and his behavior works so hard to push others away I see that broken plate trying to mend itself and protect itself from more cracks and breaks.  I know the Great Potter is standing there with open hands waiting and wanting to pick him up, clean off the pieces, and make something magnificent.  I can’t force him into the Potter’s hands, but I can lead him there.  And so I pray daily that through my love, care, discipline, and even frustration and failures God will reveal Himself to my boy so that he can be made whole.  And as a family we will reveal the beautiful creativity of our Great Potter.



This is Resurrection Sunday, you guys.  This is what it is all about.  Identifying with Christ in His death, burrial, and resurrection.  It's beautiful.

I have to admit, when we moved to Kitwe I was aprehensive about working with an international church.  I loved worshiping with my Zambian brothers and sisters in Christ.  But God is working and moving.  He is using this church to meet a long unmet need.  A place for international expatriates to gather together to worship.  We have been blessed to see so many saved.  Countless others brought back into fellowship that had been hurt by other churches.  Many baptized and discipled to greater places of growth in their relationships with God.  

 It's beautiful!  I love my church.  I love my family.  I love watching God work.  I am blessed. 


Check us out!

Preparing My Heart

This weekend is one of my favorite holiday seasons.  

Passover.  Good Friday.  Resurrection Sunday.  

Christmas is my other one.  

God Himself, Creator of all things, humbled, clothed in human flesh, came for me.  He lived for me. 

And as we remember this weekend, He died and came back to life for me.  

For you.  






But why celebrate? 

Because of my sin.  

My disgusting, revolting, twisted, evil heart.  My pride standing in puny rebellion against an almighty, all powerful, all knowing, all loving, eternal God.  My sin that deserves the wrath and eternal punishment of that holy God.  

Your sin and rebellious heart too.  

He looked into eternity future and saw us.  

Right now.  

This moment.  

He saw our sin and our helplessness.  

And so He came here through time and space.  He lived and suffered as we do, yet without sin.  In His great love for us He took on Himself His wrath and eternal punishment for our sins.  

By taking that on Himself he pardoned me.  He set me free! He made me His own. 

Then, this is the best part, He overcame sin, death, and the grave by coming back to life giving me His eternal life!!!


It is so important to me that our family truly focus on the meaning and importance of this holiday.  I want my children to know what their Creator did for them.  I have to admit, we don’t do the Easter Bunny, or Santa for the same reason (seriously, no judgement on those that do.  Not trying to start anything.).  We focus on Jesus alone.  In the week leading up to Easter we read through the Scriptures leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection.  We learn and sing hymns that teach us of the cross and eternal life.  We try to do meaningful crafts and bake.  Every year we try to make Resurrection Cookies. And yes, we do color Easter eggs.   


And it seems like every year something comes up to try to hinder us taking the time to focus on Christ and prepare our hearts for Easter.  A crazy schedule, travel, one year I ended up with a burst appendix and ovarian cyst that required emergency surgery here in Zambia the week before Easter.  This year I’ve been struggling with malaria and giardia, just feeling sick and yucky and lacking any energy to do more than the absolute basics.  Along with being physically weak I’m feeling spiritually weak.  Sin is pushing in hard.  I’m fighting hard and winning… not always, but most of the time.  But I don’t want to miss this season.  I don’t want my kids to miss this season.  I want us to savor it in whatever ways we can.  


And so my encouragement to you is to do the same.  

Savor this Passover Thursday reflecting on Christ’s preparation for the Cross and prepare your heart as well.  

Savor this Good Friday when Christ paid the ultimate price for your sin and spend time in confession.  Let God cleanse your heart and purify your soul.


Savor this Resurrection Sunday!  Rejoice!  Celebrate! 

Hello, I'm Mandy

I'd like to introduce myself to you.  


I've been happily married to this amazing man for 17 years.  These are my four kiddos.  L is 13, J is 11, W is 9 and C is 8.  Obviously one of these is not like the others.  C joined our family through international adoption.  On this blog I'll be sharing about being a wife and mother, our family adventures, and our adoption journey.


I live in Zambia, Africa where my husband is the director of missions at Central Africa Baptist College and is a co-pastor at Kitwe Church.  I love living in Africa and raising my children here. I'll be sharing our life here in Zambia, our ministry experiences, and about living and raising our kids internationally.  


I am blessed to homeschool this crazy tribe and I love it. I would describe our homeschool style as a mix of intrest led learning and unschooling with a mix of the Charlotte Mason approach.  Homeschooling in Africa has it's own challenges, but also it's own adventures I would love to share with you.


And most importantly I am a daughter of the King of Kings.  I deeply treasure my relationship with my Savior and thoroughly enjoy Him.  It would be my pleasure to share with you the things God is teaching me as I journey through being a wife, mother, missionary, and homeschooler.  


I would love for you to join me on this journey.  My prayer is that what God is doing in and through my life would be an encouragement to those who join me.  Let's journey together and see what God does.