GRACE

I love new beginnings. Fresh starts. I love starting a new book. I love mornings and the smell of a fresh, new pot of coffee. I love sunrises. I love opening my journal to a new, blank page as I begin to read my Bible. Most of all, I love my Lord and Savior and I am incredibly thankful and humbled that His grace and mercy are new everyday.

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It’s hard to believe that we have started our fourth year of homeschooling this year. One of the biggest questions we get asked, since moving to Swaziland, is: “What does a typical day look like for you?” Well, one thing you learn very quickly while living on the mission field is, no two days are exactly the same. You learn to be flexible.

With that being said…the season of life that we are in right now…homeschooling is a huge part of my day. My ministry. Now, whether that school is being done in our house, outside in the hammocks, in the car on the road, or at a care point is a different story.

I didn’t homeschool while we lived in the States. Hannah loved going to school and Luke couldn’t wait to join his sister. So when God confirmed our call to move to Swaziland, He was simultaneously calling me to homeschool. Hannah was in 3rd grade and Luke was in Kindergarten when we moved to Swaziland. I’m not going to lie, even the thought of homeschooling was extremely overwhelming to me. I felt unprepared. Lacking. I wasn’t organized enough. Wasn’t creative enough. I wasn’t a planner. It was so far out of my comfort zone, I didn’t even know where to begin. There was so much unknown. I was scared I would fail.

So I began to pray. Everyday.

I didn’t want to just accept homeschooling as something that I HAD to do but I wanted a passion for it. One…because my attitude would be reflected in our children. And two…the Lord had, without question, called me to do it.

So fast forward to one big move over the ocean and my first year of homeschooling done. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. There had been hard days, sure, but now as we headed into school year number two. I was feeling pretty confident in myself. I got this!

Well, let me tell you…I…didn’t have anything.

You see, along the way somewhere, I had began to rely on my own strength, not His. As I grew more comfortable and confident in my role as, teacher, my once very obvious need for Him began to diminish. Now, I didn’t wake up one morning and consciously think, “I got this, God, I don’t need you anymore.” It’s very rarely that obvious. But over time, that’s what I said, with my actions and lack of intentional, specific prayers.

So, no surprise, when God calls me to do something that I can truly only do in and through Him and I stupidly try and do it in my own strength, I will fail. Everytime.

Now when I say, fail, in this specific case, I don’t mean our children would never learn anything. No. If the end goal was soley to teach them book knowledge then I could do it in my own strenghth. Now, the road to get there would be hard and ugly…lacking in patience and love, self-control, joy and grace. (To just name a few.) My purpose as a believer, is to make His name known and to bring Him honor and glory In.Everything.That.I.Do. To become more like Him. To love like Him. And that is where I fail, when I try to do something in my own strength.

But Oh, His Grace! His Mercy! His Love!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

One of the biggest things that God continues to teach me through homeschooling is grace. Grace for my children, grace for myself and His grace covering us all.

I’ve come to realize that as uncomfortable as it may be, to be walking on a path where you feel unprepared…lacking…called outside your comfort zone. Where the path not only looks harder but it is harder. There is truly no better place to be, because that is where you press into the Lord knowing that when you are weak than you are strong. His power is made perfect in weakness.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. 2Corinthians 12:9

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So I go into this fourth year of homeschooling knowing we will have great and fun days and hard and challenging days. But not shying away from either because each new day brings a promise of a fresh start. Where His mercies are new and never come to an end. Where I am given another opportunity to bring Him honor and glory. Knowing it’s only possible, when I live my life In, Through, and Because of Christ.

But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and to the day of eternity. 2Peter 3:18

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Trusting The Lord With The Lives Of Our Kids

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Here is a conversation I overheard the kids having among themselves.

“Where do you want to live when we grow up?”

Busanda: “I want to live in Georgia!”

Titus: “I’m going to live in England.”

Hannah: “I don’t know where I’m going to live yet, but I know I’ll definitely adopt from China.”

Luke: “You know guys, it doesn’t really matter where we want to live but that we go where God tells us to.”

Wow! I have to say overhearing this conversation brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.

As I have watched, on social media, so many of our friends, send their kids off to college or mission trips. Closing such a huge chapter of life and yet stepping into another very exciting but also unknown and a little scary chapter of life.

I can’t help but think we’ll be there soon. Not because I’m wishing these days away, but because I know, even though some days may seem long, the years are flying by.

So, even though we aren’t in that season yet. God has been teaching me to…

Trust in Him at all times…(Psalm 62:8a)

You know, as much as we all dread going through the trials and the not-so-fun-parts of life…they are vital to our refinement and growth in the Lord. More than anything they should be used to bring Him honor and glory, as with every aspect of our lives. So no surprise to me, God continues to teach me and call me deeper to Him while using this trial of Hannah’s many surgeries. One of them being…

Trusting The Lord With The Lives Of Our Kids.

Now when I say that, I’m not just meaning the sweet picture you get of a baby dedication. (which we believe is very important to do and have done with all our children)  Or just the “knowing” that as parents and believers our kids belong to the Lord. No, I’m talking about when it hurts, when all the “pretty things” have been stripped away. When we’re scared. When we’re left with a choice.  When we’re called to put action behind that faith and trust. Do we truly believe that He is more than enough for us? For our children?

One of the hardest moments for me, as a mom, walking this trial with Hannah, isn’t all the emotions leading up to the surgery, or the physical pain and nausea that is sure to come after her operation or even the physio and cleaning of the incision that I have to do or even the surgery itself. No. It’s when the nurses are wheeling her away from me and there is literally a red line that I cannot cross as they wheel her into the surgery room. During those brief but heartbreaking moments, Hannah looks at me with tears running down her face, until they turn a corner and my.heart.breaks.every.time.

There is really only one difference in those stages. Through all of those moments there are struggles and tears and yes, still laughter and joy. Always joy. But I will be the first to say none of it is fun nor is it easy. However, the difference…the one thing that sets that hardest moment apart from all the others…is…I cannot physically be WITH her.

And yet…she is not alone!

Because where I am restricted or limited as a human….I serve a God who is limitless.

As much as my heart yearns to be with her in that moment, to hold her hand, to wipe her tears away and give her comfort.

I know, the great Comforter is with her. I know that she is in His hands. I know He loves her with an unfailing love. A love that my human brain cannot even comprehend.
I know, that He will never leave her or forsake her. I know, that He will strengthen her, that He will help her, and that He will uphold her with His righteous right hand. We will stand on His promises because He is trustworthy.

Therefore, I know there is no better place for my children than the hands of our heavenly Father. He is more than enough.

So whether God leads them to Georgia, or England or China or down the street or five hours away or an ocean away or back into a surgery room…I will trust Him at all times! Because I know…He is with us, He is for us and He will never leave us.

Update on Hannah’s wrist: About 3 weeks ago we went for another check-up for Hannah’s wrist. Although, she has healed greatly from her big surgery in April, she has also gone through a growth spurt. So once again her ulna bone has grown faster than her radius bone and needs to be shortened. Her surgery is scheduled for the morning of this Thursday, the 24th. Please continue to pray with us for complete healing. All Glory to God!

But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Isreal: “Fear not , for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  Isaiah 43:1-2

 

I Will Choose to Trust

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
  When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
  When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
  I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You. “ -Lauren Daigle  “Trust In You

I love music! I love listening to it, I love reading the lyrics and hearing the stories that inspired the songs. I love to sing, (however little side note here…I can.not sing…like at all…so my apologies to those of you who have had to sit by me as I belt it out…but just know…it will continue.) it is one of my favorite ways to worship God. So it is no surprise to me, that many different circumstances will bring a song to my mind and God will use it to draw me deeper into Him.

In this song, I think it’s a pretty safe assumption to say, “Yes, we’ve all been there”. In those waiting stages, whether big or small, moments or seasons of life where you are asking God to give you direction or open a door and He doesn’t seem to be saying “yes” or “no”. Or you have been praying desperately for something, for Him to move those mountains and He answers with a “No”, or “not yet”, or “wait on My timing”.

Those are hard answers to swallow.

When we pray, we want quick answers and not just any ‘ol answer but the answer we think is best. The answer that is easiest for us, that will cause us the least amount of pain but still bring Him honor and glory. What happens when we don’t get those quick, easy answers? Are we still diligent and consistent in our prayer life?

I think the question that we need to ask ourselves is: What is the main motivator behind our prayers?

We got to share a little bit of Hannah’s wrist injury with a few of you, when we were back on furlough. However, for those of you who don’t know, let me give you the short version of the last 20 months.

Not long after we moved here, maybe nine or ten months in, Hannah fell and fractured her growth plate on her right wrist. Now, can I just say with having two full of life, full steam ahead boys, I didn’t think Hannah would be the first to break something or have to have surgery, but as we know life is full of surprises…well, surprises to us but not to Him. So back to the story….we went to a local private clinic and had it x-rayed and a cast put on. We come back, a couple of weeks later, to get another x-ray and hopefully the cast removed. Come to find out, it was never set properly and now she would have to have a more intensive surgery. So long story short, we find a great orthopaedic surgeon in SA, and two surgeries and 3 pins later… we were keeping a close eye on the growth of her wrist. Praying she wouldn’t be in the 3-5 percentile that can experience the growth plate “dying” or being “closed” after a surgery like this. Three months before we left on furlough, we found out that she was indeed in the 3-5 percentile and a part of her growth plate was “closed”…which basically means the Radius wasn’t growing at the same speed as the Ulna bone, and if left alone could cause a slew of problems and pain.

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After her first x-ray and cast.
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After her first surgery in 2015

Here is the update: the distance between the two bones is getting longer. So she is going to have a third surgery, in April, to surgically lengthen the bone.

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two weeks ago, after just finding out she would have to have a third surgery

We have prayed fervently and desperately for supernatural healing of Hannah’s wrist, knowing that nothing is impossible with Him. Yet, she is scheduled for a third surgery in less than 3 weeks.

What does this mean? That God didn’t hear our prayers? That we should stop praying for supernatural healing? How can God love us if He allows us to go through pain?

As a mom, there are many times that I have said “no” to a certain request or have set certain boundaries or rules for our kids. Often times, they want to know why, and sometimes I tell them why, but other times I say, “You’re just going to have to trust me”. Trust, that I love you and want what’s best for you. Trust me, even though you may not understand.

Trust Me!

That is what God is saying to us. Trust Me! Trust Me, even though you may not understand My reasons. Trust Me, even though this is not what you would have chosen. Trust Me, that nothing can separate you from My love. Trust Me, I want to make you more like Me. Trust Me, I want to use you to bring honor and glory to My name. Trust Me, that truly nothing is impossible with Me. Trust Me, no matter the outcome, I Am in it.

I choose to Trust Him.

The Creator of the Universe. The Great I AM. The Alpha and Omega. The Sovereign One.

I will choose to trust Him because not only have I read about His attributes, His character, His supernatural power and never-ending love for us, in the Word of God and believe it to be true. I have also experienced who He is through the divorce of my parents, the death of my youngest brother, moving to the other side of the World and countless other ways.

He is faithful.

He is trustworthy.

His ways are perfect.

So we will continue to pray for supernatural healing, knowing that He is a God who hears our prayers and nothing is impossible with Him. However, more than anything, we pray that He continues to build our faith, to refine us and make us more like Him and no matter the outcome, we want to bring honor and glory to His great Name.

We will choose to Trust.

You keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. -Isaiah 26:3-4

Only By His Strength

The New Year is almost always met with renewed vigour, passion and excitement as we feel we are given a fresh start in life.   All of the joys, challenges, disappointments of the previous year are behind us, and we desire to set a new path for ourselves.  Unfortunately, this drive is all too often like a burst of adrenaline, shortly lived.   Good-purposed resolutions slowly fade into old patterns that we wanted to break.   I believe one tendency for this to happen is because we desire for immediate gratification.  We want to see immediate change with little to no effort on our behalf, then when we are met with resistance we quickly break.

As individuals, as a family, and as a ministry, we have a renewed sense of purpose and passion as we have reflected, recharged and refreshed over the Christmas season.   Our desire to bring about God-glorifying change to the communities we serve in, is stronger than ever.  With this in mind, we know that true enduring change does not happen over night.   It is anything but instant.   Yes, when we turn from our sinful ways and start following Jesus we instantaneously change from being enemies of God to His children, but complete transformation from the putting off of the old, to the new, is a process.    A process that takes determination, intentionality, hard work and many other critical characteristics.   This only is possible through the strength and provision that the Lord provides.   As we begin the year, we expect to face serious opposition from the evil one as we set out to do the work of God in the Nsoko area.   There are many great projects planned to be excited about, projects that will affect incredible numbers of people from all walks of life.  Whether it is to do with buildings, water, gardens, livestock, or the ever-important task of raising up people for His kingdom through disciple-making, the year has great potential and prospects, and we approach it with the knowledge and trust that God is for us.

How exciting it is to be called by God to be His vessel for the work He will accomplish.  God be glorified in us as we seek You for all that is needed to bring about Your change.   We worship, praise and thank You in advance for all that You are about to do.

We ask that you pray with us, as we pray through all that God has planned for 2017.

  • Unity
  • For hearts to be receptive to the redeeming Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • Spiritual, and physical strength to carry on when we are tired.
  • For God’s Name to be glorified throughout!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

Ephesians 3:20 – 21

Moving Forward with a Bigger Family

I am sitting here trying to think of how to express in words the emotions and feelings that have been felt during our time on furlough, and it’s hard to believe that it has now been 73 days since we were on Swazi soil. Time has flown by, and now we only have 18 more days until we arrive once again in the place we call home. Just like when we first moved to Swaziland, we really had no idea what to expect during our time in North America. You always kind of think you do, but you never truly do until you experience it. We have had an incredible time seeing family and friends, and although at times things have been a whirlwind, hectic and semi-organized chaos, it has truly been refreshing and energising to our spirits as we have spent dear time with people we love and cherish so much. One thing that Charity and I have continued to say throughout, is that we feel so loved and supported by so many through the extreme generosity of people who know us well, and those who don’t really know us at all. It has been an amazing testament to the body of Christ, and we sincerely thank each and every one of you. On the other side, we have truly missed those in Swaziland who are now such an important part of our family. It’s inevitable, whether we are on one side of the world or the other, we will now be missing those who are dear to us. I recently heard someone say that in many ways sending people to the distant mission field is in essence putting them in the offering plate and allowing God to use them as He will. What incredible imagery. This is something we must do in our own lives as well as we desire to be used by God where He has taken us. Moving us to Swaziland has pulled us away from being closer to family and friends in North America, but it has taken us to a place where our family has increased more than we ever thought possible. I truly believe that this is what Jesus was meaning when He said this in Mark Chapter 10 verses 29 through 31, “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” When we left our home in Augusta, Georgia, our family grew as we made our home in Nsoko, Swaziland, meeting many and developing close relationships with those whom He brought into our life. We are truly thankful to The Lord for this.

As we head back, we are anticipating great things. Why shouldn’t we? We serve a God who has limitless capabilities, and His steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136). Through the thick and thin God will never let us down, and He will always be on our side. So we move into this next season of life with an unwavering confidence that this is true.

Please pray for us as we continue to be a part of His work in Swaziland.

2 Years and counting…

We’ve now been in Canada visiting family and sharing the message of God’s faithfulness in Swaziland for almost 3 weeks now. We will soon be travelling to visit more family and friends in the U.S.A. to do the same. As we reflect, it is absolutely astounding to realise that we have already lived in Swaziland for pushing 2 years now, and that is truly a testament to our ever-faithful God. It seems so long ago when I, Stephen, came for the first time to this part of the world that now holds so many precious things that are so dear to our hearts. Little did we know that that first trip was going to lead to so many blessings. From the sugar cane fields, to the communities we serve in. From the drought scorched ground to the heavy summer rains (Lord wiling). From the cool crisp starry nights, to the intense heat of the day. From the great challenges we face in ministry, to our absolutely amazing RESILIENT staff. To the family and friendships we have now formed. We truly feel blessed to serve God in Nsoko, Swaziland.

As we sit and think back to the process it took to actually move to Swaziland, and the financial provision of the Lord through the many obedient people that were needed, the task truly seems daunting and tiring. In many ways you could say that it was, but one thing is for sure, our assurance, trust and belief that God would provide the finances, resilience, relationships and love for this land did not waver, and HE did not let us down. He is a faithful God, and when He calls us, He will provide all that we need. Often times it can be easy to only think of God’s provision as food, money, clothing and a roof over our heads. The stuff that we can physically touch and feel, but His provisions go so much deeper than that. God provides for all areas of our life, physical, spiritual, emotional, relational, developmental, experiential. The list could go on. God desires to grow and teach us as we serve in, and for, His Kingdom. Through our first 2 years, it has been evident that He has been faithful in doing this, in the life of our family, in so many ways. How fortunate we are to serve a God that is ALL-KNOWING, because all too often we think we know what we need, but more times than not, we have no clue at all. There have been so many amazing stories, and incredible moments where everything seemed to align, and go smooth, but when I look at how far we the Spragg family, and we the Nsoko staff family have come these past two years, the majority of our growth and development has come through the extremely challenging times. You never truly desire to have to endure through these challenges and struggles, but when by the strength God has given to His children we do, the abundance of the fruit is evident. We have learnt, and continue to learn, that no matter what God allows us to go through, whether times of plenty or times of need, we can trust in The Almighty no matter what. He truly is the only thing in this life that will NEVER let us down. As we desire to serve Him in Swaziland for the next 50 years, we must never forget this.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it. Brothers, pray for us.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 25

We ask that you will be praying for us, as we continue on in this journey, and push forward to another two years. What He will do and accomplish, we won’t know until we get there, but the anticipation is exciting!

God we praise You because You are a great, great God! You never fail us, and You never let us down! Thank you Father for Your never-ceasing provisions for all areas of our life.

 

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Mission Field

Hello Everyone!

Can I just say, Wow! I cannot believe we are at the end of February in 2016! Time is flying by! It’s hard to believe that we are nearing our 18 month mark of living in Swaziland.

So much has changed in those 18 months. We aren’t the same people that left nearly 18 months ago to move to Swaziland. God has grown and challenged us in ways we never knew before. We have grown personally, spiritually, our family has literally grown in numbers…whether that is permanently or just for a season, only God knows and we  are trusting in His sovereignty. Our siSwati is continuing to grow. I love to hear our kids just naturally speaking a word or phrase in siSwati, like its just second nature. For example…if someone gets hurt, they immediately say, “Ncesi sisi or Ncesi bhuti”…which is sorry my sister or sorry my brother, a very common thing to say here. Or if it’s hot out saying, “Eish kuyashisa”, or if they would like water to drink, “ngicela emanti”. I love to just listen to them while they are playing…whether its with baby dolls or action figures and they are speaking siSwati for their toys. Just a couple of examples…. I know we don’t speak it perfectly and I seriously don’t think I will ever get all the crazy clicks down but its becoming the norm to hear siSwati and English spoken in our house. My favorite thing of all is to hear them pray in siSwati…

“Thula. Vala emahlo.  Siyabonga Nkulunkulu kudla.  Siyabonga babe, make, Hannah, Luke, Titus, Busanda and B.  Siyabonga tinja.  Ngiyakutsandza Jesu.”

“Quiet. Close your eyes. Thank You God for this food. Thank You for Daddy, Mommy, Hannah, Luke, Titus, Busanda and B. Thank You for our dogs. I love You Jesus.”

There’s just something about hearing your kids pray in the native language, that we are all desperate to learn, of the country that God has called us to serve Him in…that just makes my heart overflow with joy.

 It’s funny the things that we see or our kids say that are completely normal to us now. For example, our one gas station has no gas or we go to buy electricity and they are out. Our normal “traffic” consists of cows, goats, donkeys or even monkeys or my favorite…. the crazy amount of African wildlife we see just by driving down the road…. I don’t think that will ever be just “normal” to me. It is awesome!  If we are going somewhere the kids will ask if we are crossing the border and if we need our passports.  They’re constantly asking for raw sugar cane to eat…which since the drought has been few and far between.

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As many things that have become normal to us since living here for nearly 18 months, we, as a family, are now adjusting to a new normal. If you follow us on social media at all then you know a new face as been making an appearance in our pictures and you have “met” Busanda. (Out of respect for her families privacy I won’t go into detail about her history.) She came to stay with us in November, and has stolen our hearts. She is 5 years old. Her and Titus are only 2 months apart….yea this is as close as we’ve ever been to raising twins and we started at age 5…Lets just say I have real respect for parents of multiples out there. 🙂     It really has been an amazing transition where she truly does fit into our family and I see God’s hands all over it…but it has still been a transition nonetheless.  I am now homeschooling 4 kids and did I mention when she moved in she knew NO English. Yes, we have some hilarious crazy stories for sure and also some sad ones. I will say nothing makes you learn siSwati faster then having someone live in your house that doesn’t speak English….although she seems to be picking up English quite easily. She’s one smart girl! We would love to make her a permanent part of our family. We don’t know what the future holds but we know God knows the desires He has put in our hearts and we are praying and trusting in a faithful Father.

On a less permanent note…we are also watching a precious, sweet 13 month old, Biyelwe, also known as B. We are watching her so her mom can go back to school. Her mom is so very smart but lost all hope of finishing school when she got pregnant and had to drop out.  We have had her since mid-January and watch her Sunday night through Friday afternoon.  What’s crazy to me is how easily we can forget the previous stages of our kids…like the baby/toddler stage…maybe that’s because we were so sleep deprived and just in survival mode that whole time  or the amount of poop and spit up we had to clean up we subconsciously  blocked it from our memory…or maybe that’s just for us moms that had kids so close in age…haha…those of you who are beginning to wonder if I really enjoyed our kids baby stages, I did…no worries!  🙂  So we once again find ourselves buying diapers, getting bottles ready and remembering…but sometimes forgetting…a diaper bag on our way out the door.  I love seeing the difference in cultures when it comes to raising babies….no one culture does it perfectly…there are pros and cons for sure. We love having B here, the kids absolutely adore her.

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So since we have been here our family has grown from 3 kids to 5 kids. (during the week that is) It now takes us a little longer to leave the house, I’m cooking bigger meals, school is sometimes interrupted by diaper changes and bottle feedings or little squabbles, sometimes when everyone decides to talk at once the noise level reaches a new high I didn’t even know existed, and I’ve been behind on my blogging but this right here…my home, my marriage, my kids….this is my biggest mission field. Someone once told us to always remember:  your work, your ministry can always go on without you but your family cannot. What are your priorities?  If you go through your life pouring yourself into your job or even your ministry but fail to pour into your marriage or to disciple your own children, I believe you have missed the mark…. By discipling our children we will raise up warriors for Christ and send them out as disciple makers…to their schools, their sports teams, and across oceans.

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One Year!

We have lived in Swaziland for one year now! It amazes me how fast a year can go by, or how much can change in just one year. I am still in awe that God chose, and called us to live life and spread the Gospel in Swaziland.

To be completely honest, this has been a hard blog to write. I just keep thinking… How can I truly put into words or sum up in a nice little blog the past year of our lives? How can I find the words with enough meaning to show that our family is forever changed? How can I truly express the heartbreaking realities of so many living in poverty in a third world country?….and on the flip side of that, if I could just somehow give you a little glimpse into the big faith that we see lived out everyday you would know that there are no words deep enough, or meaningful enough, to describe the way that they see our all powerful God.

As Believers, we are all called to one mission…one purpose…and that is to bring honor and glory to God as we go and make disciples, as we spread the Gospel. Not all are called to move to third world countries to share the Gospel, but in our story, we are.

Whenever you say Yes to God’s call on your life, you are now on the front lines of the battlefield to be attacked by Satan.  When our family said Yes to God’s call for us to move to Swaziland, all bets were off…1 Peter 4:12-19…We have experienced Satan’s attacks mostly through spiritual warfare personally, and in the ministry, like never before.   We have also dealt with everyday childhood things like poisonous bites and broken bones…which then resulted in surgeries… and chicken pox and the latest a big gash on the foot….to just name a few. Now to keep things in perspective, when things like this happen, there’s not an ER down the street that we can go to at any given time of day or night, which definitely adds to the challenge.

Just as we are on the front lines to be attacked by Satan…we also now sit in front row seats watching God move, seeing His power and hand at work. Oh what an amazing sight that is! When you say Yes to God…to step out in faith into the unknown, when you step out of your comfort zone…those are the times you are refined and are drawn closer to God, and in return, you get to see and experience God in ways you never thought possible.

As I look back on the last year I am reminded of the song, “Oceans” , that God used in such a big way in our call to Swaziland. It was and still continues to be our prayer…

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

We love living in Swaziland. There are really no words to describe it.  We have such a peace and contentment that we can only have through God, I know. It is such a testament of His faithfulness to His Word, and to our family. Although we have had our fair share of trials, and sometimes tears of missing loved ones, I know that without trials our faith would never grow. I don’t know about you, but I want trust that is without borders, and big faith in a very big and all powerful God.

“If you aren’t willing to put yourself in this is crazy situations, you’ll never experience this is awesome moments!” -Mark Batterson 

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The Power of Prayer

Hey y’all! Sorry, I have been behind in blogging these last couple of months, it has been a busy season for us. Hopefully, I can make up for a bit in these next couple of months as we reflect back on the YEAR that we have spent in Swaziland. A Year. One Year…(well almost, in two days it will officially be a year) Crazy!

Today I want to talk a little bit about the power of prayer. Our Church back in Georgia,Warren Baptist, has had a ‘Pray Thru September’ month…that along with what God has personally been showing and convicting me about in my own prayer life…has caused prayer to be on the forefront of my mind and heart.

So I thought I would share just a couple of  “prayer stories” from this side of the world.

We had only been here for a handful of months, and we were finishing up our school fee process. For those of you who don’t know, it does cost money to attend school here past the seventh grade.  In addition to a tuition fee, there is also the cost of the uniform that is required. The struggle to finish school is very real. At this time, we were waiting to hear if we had any money to pay the school fees for a group of kids in one of our unsponsored care points. We found out there was NO extra money. We had reached our deadline, and we’re out of time.  We came together as a staff, where there were lots of questions and tears…how do we tell these kids that are hungry to learn, and desperate to go to school, that they won’t be able to attend this year. If you miss a year of school the odds are pretty high that you won’t ever go back to finish. The staff all prayed together, and decided to dedicate that night as a night of prayer. Us, along with the Malloys, contacted some of our prayer warriors to join us in prayer. One thing I know, what seems impossible to us is made possible through the power of God! Within two hours God had answered our prayers.  We had THREE different groups of people say they will pay the school fees. There is power in prayer folks!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen                  Ephesians 3:20-21 

So there are some differences living here in Swaziland compared to living in Georgia…just a few. Ha! Ok, understatement of the year there. To say the least there are many many differences…most of which we love and embrace…one however not so much. That would be the amount of snakes found here, but not just any snakes, extremely venomous, and some of the deadliest snakes in the world.

Stephen got a call late in the night, around midnight, by a frantic young lady saying her friend had been bitten by a venomous snake, a spitting cobra, could we take them to the hospital. Stephen, Josh and Smanga (one of the staff members), went to pick her up and take her to a hospital, which during good driving conditions is about 30 minutes  away. Now, one of the dangers of driving at night here, are dodging all the animals that can be found on the road after dark. This will in turn slow down the driving time tremendously. It was a race against time. Once again, we found ourselves crying out to God for His healing power, and protection on them as they drove fast in the night to the hospital. When they left the hospital that night the Dr wasn’t sure if she would survive until morning. I am  beyond thankful to say that she made a complete recovery. It was so evident that Gods healing hand was on her…and that night He went before them and prepared their way…there was not one animal on the road on their trip to the hospital…which is unheard of.  THERE IS POWER IN PRAYER!

Since living in Swaziland, God has used our Swazi friends, and people in the community, to convict and challenge us in so many ways. They have great faith in a very big God! In Swaziland you pretty much have two seasons, the Wet and Dry season. They are very true to their names. When we got here last October it was coming to the end of the dry season and it had not rained for eight straight months. This dry season was very much the same. When there is no rain for so long, often times that means the communities water supply dries up, and there is no water…as in, none at all.  Many people depend on their gardens in order to survive, water is a must.

Let me tell you about a small little church who believe in a very big God. Once again the dry season has been very true to its name. Dry. Very Dry! This church came together and began to fast and pray for rain. Shortly after, it began to sprinkle, and people were happy.   In response to the sprinkle, the pastor of that church said, we did not pray for a sprinkle, but that God would make it rain hard! The next couple of days, IT RAINED HARD!

I am continuously humbled, reminded and convicted of the many times I underestimate the might of the incredibly great, all powerful God that we serve. How many times have I put Him in a box or not persevered through my prayers? How many times have I stayed in my comfort zone and not stepped out in faith, believing and trusting that He is the God He says He is. I pray that God continues to refine our hearts, and push us out of our comfort zone, so we can truly see His mighty hand at work!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

Hope

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Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 

Wow! It has been quite a week! With amazing highs and devastating lows…we have, and still are, rejoicing with our brother as God answered prayers and opened a door that we thought was closed. How amazing it is to see His hand at work! To know His timing is perfect!
We have also suffered a great loss of a friend and her baby. My heart is heavy and broken-hearted as we grieve with her family and community.
Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. This verse has never been more real to me as it has this week.
As I sit here in the Word and reflect on this past week and all that has happened…God keeps bringing one word to mind. Hope. As Believers we are meant to live differently then the world. Does that mean once you become a Follower of Christ your life is easy? No. Quite the opposite, actually. (1Peter 4:12-13)  Life on this earth can be hard, messy, heartbreaking and just not fun sometimes. So how do we get through those moments or seasons of life looking differently then the world? Hope.
1 Timothy 4:10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 
In this life our circumstances can change within seconds. You can be on a mountain and then find yourself walking through the darkest of valleys. As believers our hope and joy are not tied to our circumstances because we serve a living God that never changes. So we can walk through any trial, carry each other’s burdens and be broken-hearted and still have hope and joy…because He is our Hope and Joy and Peace. 
1Peter 1:3-4 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.
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