Please don't make me... Part 2

If you haven't already, read Part 1 of this post before reading this one...

So, I arrive at Bible Study that night and the girls are all standing around talking when the doorbell rings.  The reason this is significant is because on Tuesday night at Leigh Ann's house, no one rings the doorbell...they just walk on in.  When the doorbell rings, you know it's someone who is not part of Bible Study or a visitor.  And it was a visitor.  The visitor was a gal from the church who I am just getting to know.  She had come to visit our group for the first time.  How nice!  As we sit down to start, prayer requests are being shared.  Of course, I have only shared my thoughts on South Africa with a handful of people, mostly trying to figure out if I'm just really wanting an excuse for an exotic trip or if God is really asking me to go.  Anyway, I digress.  About 1/2 way through the prayer requests, our sweet visitor (I'm not sharing her name here since I haven't asked her permission) raises her hand and asks if she can share a request.  Know what she says?  She says (and I'm paraphrasing, but not much), "I have been feeling like I should go on a mission trip, but just don't know if God is asking me to or if it's just me wanting to.  Can you pray for me to know for sure?"


Seriously...my heart is pounding even as I type this story out.  I'm not even joking.  She literally said my prayer request and question RIGHT OUT LOUD.  Of course, my friends in the study (including Leigh Ann) turned slowly to look at me and I thought my heart would pound out of my chest.  It was like God speaking right through her prayer request to me.  I felt like I'd gotten my answer.

That evening I went home, told Steve the story and went to the church's sight online to sign up to go to Cape Town, South Africa.  And I can tell you that ever since then, I have asked God at least 3-4 times to just confirm again that I should go and each time he has.  I don't know why this is such an emotional thing for me.  My heart is pounding typing this and my eyes are filling with tears.  I guess when I sit down and really think about what I've committed to, it scares me to death.  My bestie isn't going with me this time.  I have no idea who is going.  And it's not a nice Thailand hotel.  It's South Africa.  And if you know anything about the area, the biggest problem is HIV/Aids.  I mean, is there anything scarier?

And obviously, the question on a lot of folks minds, including my own is WHY NOW?  Why am I going to South Africa at a point in my life where money is oh so tight and we are living paycheck to paycheck until Steve finds a permanent job?  WHY NOW?  And my only answer is...




All I know is that God has been very consistent in telling me to do this and I am just going to obey.  No, I have no idea where the money is coming from.  I will have to trust God to help me raise the $2,600.  And that is really hard when you are budgeting for every since dollar you are bringing in.  But all I can say is this is what God wants me to do and I'm going to do it.  The money will come from somewhere.

The trip is September 24 through October 3.  I'll share more details as I get them.  I will be posting soon to ask for sponsors for the trip.  In the meantime, please be praying for me...US...as I step out on faith.

Oh, and by the way...that gal who was also praying about going on a mission trip?  She signed up to go to Hong Kong in July.  Seems she also heard a word from the Lord that night in Bible study.  :)  Isn't God awesome?


Please don't make me...Part I

Edited to Add:  It has taken me about a week to write this post.  I'm not sure why...I just wanted it to be exactly right...

Back when I was a young teenager (heading into high school), my best friend in the world was a MK (missionary kid) whose parents served in the Philippines.  I met her when her family came to Nashville on furlough that our church helped sponsor.  We made quick friends and after the year-long furlough, she left to go back to the Philippines and I thought my teen-aged heart was breaking in two.  I wept for what seemed like days and wrote letters every week.  At least it seemed like it.  The only option we had back then was regular USPS and it took a while to get letters back and forth.  We managed to keep in touch for quite a while until they retired and moved back to the States...not too far from me...and then we lost touch (ironic no?)  I'm blessed to say I am now back in touch thanks to nothing short of a miracle.  Anyway...that was my first REAL brush with missions and missionaries other than GAs and the "Lottie Moon Mission Offering".  My whole life, I have been TERRIFIED that God was going to call me or Steve to be a missionary (and no, we're not going to be missionaries...just to put your mind at rest).  But I would pray to God that He would never make me go to a foreign country.

As most of you remember, back in 2007, I went on my first ever international mission trip to Thailand.  Now, in terms of what most people imagine as mission trips, I'm sure this was pretty mild.  And it was.  I stayed in a nice hotel and worked with missionaries and their children.  It wasn't easy, but it wasn't hard.  And it wasn't as scary as I imagined. Not to mention my best friend in the world went with me. :)  And for those that are interested, you can go here to learn how I ended up going to Thailand.

Ever since I came back from Thailand, I thought about maybe going on another trip.  But I haven't really thought much about where or when.  It's just kind of been in the back of my mind.  About a year ago, the pastor of Fish Hoek Baptist church in Cape Town South Africa, John Thomas, came to speak to our Adult Sunday School Class.  Brentwood Baptist Church has a pretty longstanding relationship with John Thomas and Fish Hoek.  You can read more about that here.  Because of the relationship with BBC and Fish Hoek, John Thomas speaks in our services fairly often and I've sat and listened to him...well..fairly often.  But something about this particular Sunday was different.  I left class that day thinking I might one day want to go to South Africa.  And except for the occasional fleeting thought, that's the last time I considered it.

Until a few months ago...and it seemed that everywhere I turned it was something about Africa.  I started wondering if God was trying to tell me something or it was just me WANTING to go and so I was noticing things more than usual.  It really drove me nuts for a while, so one Tuesday afternoon, I emailed my Bible Study leader (she would be the one highlighted here) to find out how she knew that it was God asking her to go to Haiti (or India where she's been several times) and not just her wanting to go.  Unfortunately, she didn't have time to answer my email before Bible Study time that night.  And that's when God showed up...


Another 9 weeks...

So, Jenna got her report card today.  We were very pleased...as I've mentioned in some prior posts, we have hoped that Jenna would enjoy school and be a good reader. And here, I talked about reading levels and which one she's on.

Last reporting period, she was reading at a level of Q and that's where she's been pretty much all year.  When she finishes 2nd grade, she's supposed to be on level P.  So, she started the second grade already past that.  This time, she's been bumped up to level S.  Ending 3rd grade, she is to be on level T.  So she is reading on a level that she should be on when she finishes third grade.  How impressive is that?!

Her other grades are as follows:
Bible: E
Reading: S+ (up a little from an S)
English: E (up from an S)
Handwriting: S+ (up a little from an S)
Writing: E (up from an S+)
Spelling: E
Math: S+
Science: E
Social Studies: E

She also brought up her "N" grades in "Uses appropriate means to resolve conflict" and " Has positive attitude" to an S on each.  So, yet another really good report card.  We are proud of our girl!

On a separate note, tomorrow, I'm looking forward to going to my couponing seminar that was canceled from January.  I'm really excited to learn a little more about this very awesome money saving idea.  Tomorrow night, Steve and I have tickets to see The Color Purple at TPAC.  Jenna will get to spend some time with her favorite babysitter, Katelyn.  She frequently asks if me and Steve can go on a date night so Katelyn can come over!

Some more exciting news on the Taylor Family Blog coming soon so stay tuned...


A Special Evening

It's been a very special evening at the Taylor household.  Jenna Grace prayed to accept Christ as her Savior tonight!  For a mother that's been ultra emotional all week, I'm rather surprised that I'm not a puddle right now.

Jenna has been talking about becoming a Christian for quite a while.  I felt strongly that she was not ready.  A few months ago, when talking with God, I prayed that He would move me out of the way if I was keeping her from making the most important decision in her life.  Shortly thereafter, I ran across a workbook that we'd gotten from the church that the New Christians class uses called "I'm a Christian Now!"  Typically after you accept Christ, you go through this class using the workbook.  Instead, Jenna and I decided to do it individually and have been going through it together in the evenings before bed.  Tonight, we finished and I told her that it was HER decision when to accept Christ.  She decided that tonight was the night.

She said her sweet prayer with Steve and I holding her hands in her bedroom and that was it!  She is so excited.  She immediately said, "I feel good!" which was followed a short time later with, "I think I need to cry".  Both emotions that I felt at 10 years old when I accepted Christ.  The first person she wanted to call and tell was Nana (that's Bertie).  Nana was very excited.  More calls will be made tomorrow, but it was getting late and we didn't want to start waking people up. 

We'll be going to speak with Pastor Jay this Sunday to work out details of baptism and membership paperwork.  I plan to invite you ALL to her baptism! What an exciting time in our lives!

Jenna has a few words she'd like to say about what she's done tonight, so here goes...

Dear  people  I  just  got  .............Well........I   just  became  a   christian!  And  I  feel

  like  a  new  born  baby.........maybe  not   a  new  born  baby  but  a  new  person.  Also  I  feel   great!
I  love  you  is  what  JESUS  would  say  and  GOD  and  if  you're  not  a  christian  pray  now.  And  the  HOLY  SPIRIT  will  come  inside  you  and  you  will  feel  like  a  new  person.   DO  IT  NOW!

(Jenna wanted me to add that the red lettering above stands for Jesus' blood.)

What is written above is totally Jenna.  I did not guide her in writing any of it.  I'm so proud of Jenna tonight.  It will be a very special night to remember for sure.


Heaven on Earth

Edited to add:  For some reason, some of you may be unable to see the pictures in my posts.  I cannot for the life of me figure out what setting I have to change to see these.  However, you CAN see them through Google Reader.  If any of you tech savvy people know what the problem is, please EMAIL ME!

For any of you that know Jenna Grace you know she looks so much like Steve and/or Steve’s side of the family…Deanne, Micah etc. I’ve heard it all. She’s got so much of his personality too. She unfortunately got my height (so far), my impatience and some of my other not so desirable traits.

One of the things I always prayed she would get from me is my love of reading. I have said it before, but I believe the foundation of a good education begins with reading and reading well. Steve never liked school and I believe it was due in part, to the fact that he didn’t read as well which influenced everything school-related.

I am happy to report that she is a full-on LOVER OF BOOKS! On weeknights, we read before we go to bed. I usually pick a book that I think might be a little advanced for her (though she’s already reading on a 3rd grade level) and I will read to her. The first book we read was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. The second book we just finished was one of my favorites from my childhood. Anyone recognize it? Oh yes…it’s JUDY BLUME and the Hatcher Family.
I read almost every Judy Blume book published at the time and loved all of them. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was one of my favorites. I even owned a copy and saved it all these years hoping to pull it out one day with my child. And that day came. The book was old and the front cover ½ torn off. But definitely still readable. Oh, how much fun I had reading that book to JG. As if that wasn’t enough, guess what she brought home today??? Totally not knowing it was the same author or the sequel to TOAFGN, it’s…

This time, she doesn’t want me to read it to her…she is reading it to me! I mean. Are you kidding me? It’s really a little bit of heaven right here on earth. I can’t WAIT until tonight for bedtime. Seriously. This might be the most exciting part of my parenting journey. And as if that’s not enough, many weekend nights, she will beg, yes BEG, me to go lay in the bed together each reading our own books. Steve got a picture of us on his cell phone a few months ago and it almost brought tears to my eyes. A girl that not only loves reading like I do, but loves the same books that I did at her age. I can’t wait for the others to come… .

And to top it off? SHE LOVES TO SCRAPBOOK. Yes friends, it’s true. It’s not the level of scrapbooking that I do (not that I’m professional or anything), but she loves to use my rejected pictures and scrapbook stuff. She is a mini-me. She may not LOOK like me, but she loves the things I love. And it makes me happy to think when she is a teenager, she just might want to hang out with me and do those things. And that…well, THAT is a little bit of heaven. 


More updates from Haiti

Sorry for the late post...wanted to let you know that I received a couple emails this weekend about my sweet friend Leigh Ann and her trip to Haiti.

One point for those of you who know Leigh Ann and might be trying to text her encouraging words...effective this morning at 12:01am, AT&T no longer had free service to Haiti.  So calls and are text messages (especially those she receives) are really REALLY expensive.  Jeff and Leigh Ann are asking that you not text or call her.  She's due to be back in the States last Tuesday (that's tomorrow!) and will be in touch (via her blog or FB) as soon as possible.

The kids had a great time braiding many of their hair.  They especially loved Leigh Ann's long, blonde hair.  You can see pictures of this on her FB or the Sweet Sleep blog.

Yesterday, they were to travel in an open air van to the church and it was supposed to rain.  It has rained ("monsoon" I think is the word Jeff said Leigh Ann used) and so that trip was shaping up to be quite interesting.  Shortly after, Leigh Ann emailed everyone to say that the roads to PAP were not able to be traveled, so they were having church where they were, which was a huge praise!

The word today is that the team is very sore and tired for the work they are doing.  And Leigh Ann is already starting to be sad about leaving these children.  I'm sure she's not alone.  And there was another aftershock several hours ago.  I'm  sure this puts everyone on edge.  See Jeff's email below and please pray for the team and Leigh Ann as they prepare to say goodbye to these children who have endured so much...

"I talked with Leigh Ann last night and again this morning. The team is doing well but tired from the rock moving and painting. Check out the sweet sleep blog site to view some “chain gang” photos (http://sweetsleep.blogspot.com/). :-) Leigh Ann has been named the singing lady by the kids. While we were on the phone this morning I could hear the kids singing in the courtyard some of the songs she has taught them. They are loving it and so is she. She is sad for having to leave them though (as those of you who know her can only imagine). All the kids want is for someone to hold, play and sing with them. She is having a hard time with the reality that she will be gone on Tuesday and won’t be able to do that for them anymore. Today, they are back at the orphanage from yesterday. This one was destroyed in the earthquake and they had to move all 47 orphans to the orphanage they are in until it could be rebuilt. They are finishing it today and tomorrow with paint and beds to move the orphans back into their original home for space reasons. However, she said the new one is very small and did not see where all 47 would go. She kept repeating “Loaves and fishes. Loaves and fishes...” I just got on Facebook and saw she posted that they experienced an aftershock about 5 hours ago. Pray that these stay at a minimum or are non-existent. I know from Leigh Ann that Jen Gash is not enjoying these at all. Keep praying for them. Their work is not done yet. More updates to follow... "

Please pray...