Tuesday, May 30, 2017

FINISHING FURLOUGH

Furlough is coming to an end, but we are blessed by the many memories we have made.

At one of the homes we stayed at, we were able to enjoy some paddle boats while trying to spot a red-headed snake that would periodically poke his head up.

The race is on!
A stop at Lambert's Cafe is a given on the furlough trail.  Who needs to order a meal with the delicious throwed rolls and free sides?

We ended up having enough leftovers for lunch the next day.
It is always nice to find an outdoor park to enjoy, and this particular one was beautiful - complete with a miniature Statue of Liberty.

Wow - our children have really grown, right?
Sight and Sound Theaters is another stop we love to make on the furlough trail.  We were treated to a personal behind-the-scenes tour by one of the workers there.

Amazing special effects!
Life carries on with milestones.  Skyler is thrilled to have passed his sister in height and will probably pass me up by Christmas.  Shiloh has squeezed passed Stanley, so we will see if he catches up with Shane.

Skyler's "Little" Sister
We ask your prayers as these next four weeks will be stressful with the packing, appointments, decision making, saying good-byes, and flying out.  We need to remember to smile during these times.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

OUR FIRST COLLEGE GRADUATE


Is it possible?  How can we be old enough to have a college graduate?

Graduating Class of 2017
We rejoice with Shane in his accomplishment of finishing 4 years of college.  It has not been easy for him, particularly the first year having to adjust to American culture, but he persevered.  We surprised everyone by flying Stanley in for the graduation, and many tears were shed when he had to leave.

I love our family.
Having Pastor Bob Ross preach the commencement exercises was special for Keith and I since he was the vice-president of the college we graduated from and is now a supporting pastor.

Pastor Adam, Pastor Ross, Daniel (Shane's cousin) and Shane
We have seen growth in Shane's life and are thrilled with the next step God has prepared for him.  


Well done, Shane!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

BLESSED TO BE A MOM

This was the first time in 22 years of motherhood for me to be away from all of my children on Mother's Day.  Keith and I were blessed by the generosity of an Alaskan church to fly both of us to Alaska for a meeting that just happened to be on Mother's Day.  However, my children had many surprises awaiting for me when we returned, and I enjoyed each one.  In return, I thought I would write this post as a letter to them, my six blessings:


Dear Children,

I have been blessed.  So abundantly!  I love each one of you so much!  As I look back on the past 22 years of wearing the title "Mom," I smile.  I laugh.  We have made precious memories together.  

Remember --

- The child who emptied the whole bookshelf into the laundry basket
- The one who rinsed his toothbrush in the diaper pail
- The one who was actually named Seaton
- The fearless 4-year old warrior who proudly showed me the snake he had killed with a rock
- The baby who was 17 days overdue
- The quiet child who cut up the living room curtains and emptied 2 boxes of cereal because he was being neglected as I schooled the others
- The one who insisted on wearing mismatched shoes
- The baby who spit up so much that I changed my clothes up to 3 times a day
- The baby who liked to be held upside down

Remember all the chameleons, puppies, and roach and tick invasions?

You have lived through hair lice, chicken pox, maggots, giardia, mysterious rashes, a near drowning, a dogbite, and a fractured wrist and rib.  You have been in 42 states, crossed the equator more times than we can count, rafted the Nile, and had your picture in thousands of homes.  

I have been your seamstress, baker, encourager, teacher, party planner, nurse, doctor, comforter, travel coordinator, cook, camp director, and librarian.  I have loved "being there" for you.  Even as you go off to college and forget the time change and message me at 2:00 am,  I love to talk to you.  Even when I lose half a night's sleep staying up with you, I love to be the one to care for you.  

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart.  It is one of the hardest callings on earth.  As each of you leave the home, the heart strings are pulled tighter as the miles between us grow.  This time of life is difficult.  However, I am thankful that the distance doesn't erase my title.  I'm your mom always.  

I love you Shane, Stanley, Shae-Lynn, Shiloh, Skyler, and Savannah.  

Thanks for calling me "Mom."

Friday, April 14, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SHILOH!


As our departure draws near, we have reached our last birthday celebration in the States.  
We celebrated Shiloh's 15th birthday in Kansas.


What fun to be able to include my nephew in our celebration as we went out to eat at Zaxby's (love their chicken wings), went bowling, and then stopped for ice cream at Dairy Queen.  


We are very blessed to have Shiloh as a part of our family, and we are grateful that God has granted us wisdom in taking care of his diabetes.  When he was diagnosed in Uganda, the doctor looked us in the eye and said, "People who get diabetes in Uganda die."


We love you, Shiloh, and pray that you will always seek the Lord's direction for your life.



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

MARCH GLADNESS


What brings March Gladness?  Each month brings us closer to our departure when we get to go home.  At the writing of this...16 more meetings and just 85 more days.

We all agree . . . Keith is the best preacher!
We are privileged to spend time with other special missionaries.
Keith and I were interviewed on a Christian radio station.
We have been in several mission conferences this month which are opportunities to spend more time with the church members enjoying fun activities with them.

Our children hiked to the highest point in Alabama.
The boys went fishing, and Shiloh caught an eel!
They did catch some fish, too.
Each furlough someone invites the kids to ride horses, which they love.
We enjoyed eating some Louisianna crawfish.
The boys had opportunity to get some gun practice in.
We have made some family stops, too.  It has taken a while, but we have finally made our rounds in getting all of my family visited.  They are really spread out!

Our children with their Grandpa Ward.
Keith and I with my dad.
This is a mixture of cousins, spouses, and second cousins.
We were able to visit Keith's grandmother, too.
As always, we make time for educational field trips with the kids.  While they might not fully appreciate the value of seeing history up close, one day they will be able to look back and say, "I was there."

History field trip to Ft. Smith.
One of the difficult aspects of the ministry is when we see people saved, attend our Bible college, and then move away.  A part of our hearts goes with them.  However, sometimes God decides it is time for them to move on up to heaven.  Many, many years ago, Keith led John Jones Kalanzi to the Lord and later wed him and his wife.  J. J. (as we all called him) attended our Bible college and assisted another missionary in starting an orphanage and school at our church.  When the orphanage was moved to the village, Brother J. J. went with it and became pastor of the church that was started there.

Leighton, J. J. and Harriet in 2007
Last week while driving home at night, Pastor J. J. died in an auto accident.  Not only does he leave behind his wife Harriet and their five children, but also 80 orphans and 100 street children who looked up to him as father.  Please pray for his family and the ministry in Mbira as they face difficult days ahead.


Thank you for praying for us, the furlough trail, and for the many people whose lives God has enabled us to touch.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

FEBRUARY FUN


February has been such a fun month.  We were blessed to be able to attend the marriage retreat at our home church - something we look forward to each furlough.  We were at a beautiful resort that was very relaxing!

My best friend for 24 years.

This curious guy wanted my sunglasses.
Being in Texas for a couple of weeks has given us opportunity to enjoy the swimming pools again - something our children really enjoy.

It was such a beautiful sunny day.
This indoor pool was so beautiful with the murals and the fountain.
We have been in some very special churches.  Just this month we were in three with missions closets, and one church gave us an offering just for ice cream!

Patiently waiting for their ice creams.
Another church invited us to stay an extra day to attend their Spring Banquet, which included the teens.  I don't think I have been to a formal banquet since college!  What fun this was for all of us as this was Shae-Lynn and Shiloh's very first banquet.

My Amazing Sweetheart
Our middle two children all dressed up.
We have 23 more churches to visit, and then we will be busy with packing.  We appreciate your prayers for us.  We are enjoying all of the activities and visits, but we are ready to be home again.

He's a senior already!
Please pray for our boys in college.  Shane will be graduating in May, and Stanley is now living with his grandparents in California and attending West Coast Baptist College.  We praise the Lord that this week he finally got a job.

He's a freshman!

Our children are such a blessing to us, and we praise God for each of them.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SHAE-LYNN

Traveling on your birthday may not be the most exciting thing to do on your birthday, but at least that means no school, right?

Chocolate covered strawberry "cake"
Shae-Lynn's birthday came on a 9-hour trip back to Austin.  But with the assistance of a very special lady at our home church, I was able to surprise the birthday girl with some special things.

Birthday balloon, bouquet, and bowl of ice cream!
We all loved her "cake" a lot!
Then another lady we were recently with gave us a gift card for The Olive Garden, so we were able to treat the whole family there for lunch.

Italian meal with the family.
We praise the Lord for the very special lady our daughter has become.  We pray the Lord blesses her with many more years as she gives her life in service to Him.