It Is Time

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“Let him who would move the world first move himself.”  Socrates

Passports? Check.

Vaccinations? Check.

Plane tickets? Check.

Water filters? Check.

Work boots? Check.

Flashlights? Check.

And the list goes on…

For weeks now our days have been consumed with question and answers and crossing off items on those pesky to-do lists!  

“Did you manage to rent us a car in Johannesburg with four wheel drive? Those dirt roads can become impassable.”

“Do you think the girls need steel-toed boots? Surely they won’t be using a machete.”

“Has our South African money come in?  How much is 5000 rands anyway?”

“Wonder if our phones will work on that 2G network?”

It’s funny that our family will only be gone for one month, but travel into a third world country is no easy task. If any detail is overlooked chances are we could get stuck with no way of getting the items we may need.  However, at the end of each Q & A session, Jeff and I seem to agree- an adventurous spirit, a willing heart, a desire to serve, and the humility to become learners will probably go a long way toward our success on this venture.

We will be flying out on February 18 to Lesotho (pronounced le-soo-too) located within the borders of South Africa.  Although we have lived in Uganda, this nation is unlike any place we have ever visited. (It’s actually 2700 miles from Uganda, full of its own customs, languages, tribes and peoples.) It will be summer when we arrive, but due to the high altitude (we will be living at over 5000 ft. elevation) the temperatures through the day will be pleasant (70s) and cooler at night (50s).  

We have registered to attend an agricultural conference in which the four of us will be students alongside African nationals and other missionaries, learning best practices for sustainable agriculture in Africa. The lessons will be coupled with Bible studies as well.  Our hope is to drink it all in and then to someday venture out into even more rural villages to teach both the farming practices and the Bible truths simultaneously. Our conference will last three weeks and then we will have a few days to get to know the nationals, visit local villages, spend time with other missionaries, and attend local church services.  We have also carved out the last three days to visit a Safari park in South Africa.  

I am certain this will be an eye-opening, life-changing experience for both me and Jeff and of course, our daughters. We plan to close our schoolbooks for a month (good-bye Greek tragedies and sentence diagramming) and let the wonderful world of Africa be our teacher. While we are so blessed to have this opportunity unfold before us, please consider uniting with us in prayer.  I have a truly adventurous personality, but I wouldn’t dare travel into this spiritually unprepared. If you will partner with us in prayer we would greatly appreciate it!

  • Smooth travel- Okay— so this journey is a doozy! Just getting to Lesotho will be a pretty big undertaking.  We will fly Memphis to Atlanta on February 18 and then board a huge Boeing 777 for a 16 hour non-stop flight to Johannesburg.  Please pray for Jeff who has a touch of claustrophobia and cannot sit for longer than a movie.  Pray for me because I get motion-sickness, even on simple car rides.  Pray for our daughters, that the screen time will work its magic and they will never even notice a full day has passed.
  • Jet lag- With the 8 hour time difference and a day lost on a plane, we will undoubtedly land with our heads in la la land. Pray that we can rest at the appropriate times and quickly adjust to our new night and day.
  • The second plane- After Johannesburg, we will board a tiny plan for the last leg of our trip to Lesotho,  approximately a one hour flight.  Since taking off and landing make me the most motion sick, this is actually the flight I am more worried about! It’s nothing but a long take off and landing!
  • The car ride- After landing in Lesotho we will be picked up by a missionary who will drive us through a 2 1/2 hour, wild, unpaved, mountainous, treacherous trek to our conference.  (Did I mention I get car sick?)

Honestly, these are our greatest prayer needs at this time.  Once we are in country and at the conference we will be able to share with you about the accommodations, the people, the land around us, and any other needs we see.  Ultimately, this trip is not about us— it’s about spreading God’s kingdom and giving Him glory at every twist and turn.  We want to draw near to Him and let His love and light flow through us.

We do covet your prayers in that as well: may the King of our hearts be made known in and through us.  May we find Him ever faithful in all corners of the earth.  Thank you from our very hearts to yours for taking this journey with us.

Off We Go (Again!)

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“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.  You step onto the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

I love a cup of coffee, a good book, a warm blanket, and a gentle fire.  I love the smell of spaghetti sauce with an undercurrent of brownies in the oven.  I love piano music playing throughout the speakers in my house. I love to hear my children and their cousins splashing and squealing in the backyard pool.  And I love the scent of the cotton blossom candles I burn in my bedroom. Truth be told, I love being home… where everything is not just familiar, but it’s right.

Home, the place all my little darlings have left muddy footprints, scuffed my baseboards, and knocked holes in the sheetrock.  It’s where we’ve huddled in large gatherings and shared news like college acceptances, new engagements and a baby on the way.  It’s also the place we’ve collected our grieving souls and comforted one another just by sitting together, looking through old photo albums, marveling at how time changes everything yet some things never change. Home is safety; it is security; it is the one sure thing in a world that is as uncertain as ours.

Yet, here I sit, once again, ready to leave.  My soul flutters for far away places.  In my dreams I visit ancient ruins of China and Greece, I swim under waterfalls, gaze at lions on the savanna, and hike precipices to uncharted villages in the jungle.  I have a wandering and also a wondering heart that is not really ever at rest. I am ready to go again and see what the world is like. 

Jeff and I will be taking our daughters (Layla and Charlotte) to Lesotho, Africa in a few weeks. We will live there for a month, and we will be participants in an agricultural training for rural farmers.  Along with farming techniques we will learn how to share the gospel in this setting. We will be students and servants, learners and adventurers, listeners and participants. But most of all, we will be ambassadors of hope.  We are traveling 9,000 miles because we have brothers and sisters overseas who may need to know the American church loves them.  We are leaving our home in hopes to sit in someone else’s home and share a cup of tea, hear their stories, unite in our suffering and glory in our Savior.  We need to be reminded of the simplicity of living without so many outlets and chargers, without having to merge our schedules and share our to-do lists so someone buys coffee and someone else picks up the dog from the vet. 

We are going to work hard but ultimately to find rest. And I invite you to come along, too. 

We ask that anyone who would like to support us in prayer, please do. We need partners who will commit for thirty-one days to place our family on your prayer list and make it a priority to approach the throne of grace on our behalf.  We have lived in Africa before, and we learned early on that the prayers of our people back home were mighty and effective.  Our enemy is not happy when we act in faith and courage, so I am certain he would love to discourage our family and disrupt our plans. But the church of God is fully equipped to fight for us and with us as we charge into the unknown.

Please follow this blog if you wold like to be updated on our travels, hear the stories of our adventures, and know first hand how to pray for us.  Also, we want to hear from you. We would love to uphold you and your family in our prayers as well.  As we leave our home, we take you with us… (we will do our best to keep our feet)…so come along!

 

Sharing a Bed

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If you’ve ever had to share a bed with a little sister, you know how absolutely horrible such a state can be.  Tangled legs, cold feet, heavy breathing, fingers wrapped in your hair, and the most annoying questions, late at night is certainly just cause to wake up mad.

And if you ever had to share a car with a little sister, you know how absolutely mortifying that can be.  Messes of fast-food cups, crumpled homework carcasses, sandwich crumbs, and constant fights over the radio station can certainly crimp your style when you’re trying to impress your high school friends.

If you’ve ever gone off to college and left your little sister, she will suddenly become your best friend. Calling you first when her heart is broken, asking for cash when she feels she tapped out mom and dad, borrowing your clothes, stealing your albums, but asking for your advice at every turn.  And amazingly, she will become her own strong-willed, determined self, even when you’re not around.  Time moves on and she somehow grows up, falls in love, and touches the lives of all those around her with her beauty and strength.

Then, if you’ve ever had the privilege to share your children with your sister, well that’s fun… Aunts are amazing and way cooler than moms.  They buy the neat gadgets, organize the fun outings, and suggest things like ice cream for dinner or a movie after midnight. They plan the best vacations with detailed agendas, and they pretty much won’t take no for an answer.

And if you’ve ever had the privilege of sharing your life dreams with a little sister, you know how invaluable that can be. She encourages you and she says, “Of course you can!”  She will keep your kids (all five of them) so you can branch out into new ventures. She will encourage you to carve a new path in the world, to never limit yourself. 

And if you’ve ever faced cancer in your little sister you will see how unbelievably strong she really is.  She will become your hero; you will want to emulate her faith and her confidence. You will hope you can face similar situations with such grace and courage. You will learn from her to cherish every day, and to find laughter all around, despite the pain.  You will readily pray over her sick bed, sing her favorite songs and hold her hand through the night.  You will watch her breathe her very last breath when her heart and lungs give out and you will breathe for the first time as you watch her soul enter glory.  You will ache a new ache you’ve never known; your heart will fall to pieces, knowing however, they will one day be put back into place… You will hold your loved ones tighter, you will thank God for His mercy and victory, and you will move forward in this life without your precious shadow.

And then you will wish like everything you could share a bed with your little sister one more time.

The Battlefield

Over the past few weeks, my daughters and I have been studying the Civil War. Immersed in stories of honor, bravery, tragedy, horror, and suffering, we have been moved by the characters and impressed by the leadership that brought our nation through the most tumultuous time in our history.

To further our understanding, we have also begun a quest to visit battlefield sites— to stand where soldiers, young and old, venerable and vulnerable, stood and prayed and fought and died.  We have beheld the vast grave markers in crooked rows, standing bleakly in the fading sun, one after another, each a testimony to someone’s dad, brother, husband, friend…

As I cringe at the devastation that war brought upon our kinsman, I am thankful for the victory that saved our Union and freed our enslaved brothers and sisters.  And I can’t help but consider my present family and friends who are standing firm in their personal battlegrounds each day.  My sister, who is bravely fighting cancer, determined to win back her health and her wholeness to return to her life of ministry.  A friend whose seven-year-old faces a nine hour brain surgery to remove a twisted temporal tumor.  A relative who daily struggles with darkness of the mind and demons of the past that try to keep her from seeing the beauty of today. And on and on the list goes… friends and family and co-workers and acquaintances, all facing the effects of our fallen world in very real and personal wars.

History shows me that humanity will rise up— that even though we may be faced with dark days, we will live to see the sun rise again.  There is courage and great resolve wired in our DNA.  Our ancestors didn’t give up, and neither shall we. I believe those heroes of old could look past the present day and see a greater tomorrow.  They knew that as short as this life might be, the courage and integrity they lived out would live on and inspire a whole nation to make a much better world.  That is our heritage; that is what we should strive to do: live strongly and live well, think seriously about the legacy we each shall leave, and always remember, this earth is not our home: a battlefield, yes, but the spoils and riches lie just beyond.

To Fe, the girl who could do anything

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Is there a ball court in heaven?  If so, you are most certainly dominating!

 

A Poem-

I pause by the grave but know you’re not there

And I wonder, “Is there a ball court in the heavenly sphere?”

And every time the thunder rolls its mighty, terrible sound

I will know it is you crashing the boards for another rebound.

And I hope that there’s a sprawling stadium waiting us in glory

So you can stretch your powerful legs and let your speed tell your story.

And every time the winter wind blows swiftly across my face

I will know you’ve just sprinted another victory in a race.

And when the golden leaves in fall flutter down like rain

I will know you are dancing in heaven- wildly and without pain

And when in heat of summer I hear robins tweet in harmony

I will imagine you’re the drum major keeping them in time and on key

But I now stand at your grave and weep with all my friends

But you’re not there— you’re busy!

Your journey’s at the start and not the end.

You are bounding and singing and laughing with glee

You’re jumping hurdles and throwing the shot and whacking a softball happily—

You are full of life and full of joy, full of praise…

You are finally free.

See you soon, Dear Friend                                                                                                            —Kelley Griffin (Lammers)

Finish Strong

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Who doesn’t love a hero?

I just watched Avengers:, Infinity War with my family for the second time.  MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!!!!

To say the least, I did not like the ending.  I sort of agree with Charlotte, who simply had tears streaming down her cheeks as Groot faded into oblivion.  There is something about a summer blockbuster movie that is supposed to leave us satisfied. We expect to leave the theater pumped up, ready to don our cloaks and hammers and take on the world.

But, if you didn’t believe it before, just watch Infinity War… not all movies end well.

Fortunately for us, Scripture does end well! God tells us His ending from the very beginning.  In fact, He reveals it right in the garden when He proclaims Jesus will crush Satan’s head!  Yet somehow we live day by day, defeated, as if our favorite hero has vanished like dust in the wind.  We walk mundanely through this life as if the enemy is victorious and we are enslaved.  We lie and cheat. We fuss and bicker. We are jealous and bitter. And we are neglecting the true identity Christ has bestowed upon us: we are His brotherhood.  We are heirs with Him! We are of royal blood, carefully chosen for wondrous works if we will just accept the assignment. Power is ours and victory is guaranteed.  Yes, there will be battles, and with that, scars. There will be set backs and frightening days ahead. But we know the outcome; we are aware of God’s grace toward us and His sovereign rule that is working good things in our lives, even on days that seem bad.

And we should walk with our heads held high.  We should aim in all endeavors to finish well, whatever the task. My daughters and I just completed our third year of homeschool.  We finished well. We worked until the end. We struggled some days, and others we soared.  But if we did only a few things right, one is that we persevered until the end. And that is how we shall do all things.

Finish well.  It is the best way to guarantee you will start well the next time. And the next. And the next.

Oh, and Marvel, please bring the dead to life!

Because of Caleb

 

aircraft-1362586_1920A set of sky blue eyes looked down at this mother and large muscled arms reached out to offer her a true hug of gratitude and goodbye. The nineteen-year-old was dressed in blue jeans and a plain hoodie, an army-issued backpack tightened behind him. He said a stoic goodbye to the others around him: his dad, his brothers, his sweet, young girlfriend. And then he proudly turned and held his head high as he walked the shiny tiled hall to his gate. He was leaving for basic training, and he was already filled with a sense of duty and military pride.

Those left behind were devastated. Their son, so young with a bright baseball career ahead had surprised the family over the holidays with his plans to leave college and join the ranks of those defending American freedom. He didn’t make excuses, he didn’t fabricate grand plans, but he spoke plainly: “It has been in my heart a long time.” “I want to serve my country.” “This is where I belong.” And in just weeks, he was shipped off.

With a courage unknown to most of us, he left the comfort of a nice home, strong family, tight community and certain future to live for something greater. His desire was simply to be a part of the fabric that holds our country together. And there are many others, just like him, who refuse to talk about doing hard things, but instead set off and do them. Missionaries, pastors, service corps, aid/relief workers, and many community servants put their lives on the back burner because they simply desire to make sure the rest of us can live freely.

Because of Caleb, and the many other young men and women just like him, I am able to worship in small Baptist church each week where we sing “Amazing Grace” and “There’s Power in the Blood” with great conviction.

Because of Caleb, and the many other young men and women just like him, I am able to homeschool my children where we may create galaxy cookies and clay models of the human body, or spend afternoons reading The Hobbit or visiting a museum.

Because of Caleb, and the many other young men and women just like him, I can participate in 5K color run or attempt a triathlon or a Spartan race, even though I am far from an elite athlete.

Because of Caleb and the many other young men and women like him, I can binge on Netflix or go nuts over March Madness. I can create a fantasy football team and join a league with my sons. I can watch the Cardinals live in St. Louis or the Razorbacks on the Hill. I can ride in a hot air balloon in California or soak in the sunset in Miami.

I can plant a garden, host a swim party, plan a summer wedding, color my hair, re-decorate my living room, or wait until February to take down Christmas lights. I can quit my job, quit my diet, max out a credit card, or sell all my possessions in a garage sale. I can write my thoughts and publish them on the world wide web, with no fear of persecution or pain.

How comfortable my life can be! How enjoyable my days with family and friends! And this idealistic American dream did not come without a price, nor is it maintained without the sacrifice of men and women, like Caleb.

To all our servicemen and women, I thank you. Sincerely and deeply, and I ask your forgiveness when I fail to honor you as I should. And to Caleb, I can’t wait to see you again!