Cuppa with Nancy

My Whirlwind Week in Myanmar

The current cuppa of choice is a strong and malty Golden Yunnan tea with a touch of sugar and a splash of half and half.

As I rest on my comfy couch on this quiet Sunday evening, I can hardly believe the miles I have traveled since a week ago Friday. That ‘s when I made a quick trip to carry some of the provision you gave to fund the construction of the creative outreach center in Pastor David’s city. I did not share openly about this trip in an effort to be wise. Thanks be to God for His provision and protection for His purposes. 

I joined Pastor David and his wife in a city high in the mountains of Shan State, Myanmar. The Glory team was there playing in a national tournament. They lost in the penalty kick portion but represented themselves well. Delivering your generous gifts to David and his wife in my hotel room that night was a holy moment of prayer and partnership. Many of you had the joy of meeting David this summer as he shared his vision for the outreach center. With provision gathered, a construction document can now be issued and construction will begin in October! 

A highlight for me was the invitation to share with church members on Wednesday evening. Approximately 60 people packed the “upper room” of a home, sitting on the floor to worship, fellowship and hear the Word of God. Most touching for me was the glimpse of David’s mother lost in worship, just weeks after the passing of her beloved husband. He died a few hours before David returned from his summer visit to America. David’s mother taught David (and many others) to pray by her righteous example. She is the mother of House of Glory.

At the home gathering, I was struck by the ability of even the youngest children to sit and sing and listen to the teaching. As I shared (with David translating), my goal was to exhort the church to remember their identity as a people of prayer and God’s Presence, especially during the upcoming months of construction of their physical location. They are the church, not the long-awaited building. May this truth continue to be their legacy. Lastly, we were offered rice soup with chicken, quite delicious. The youth group served and cleaned up afterward.

My last two days were spent visiting the Reading Room and catching up with the lovely family who leads this ministry. I saw firsthand the dozens of sturdy, colorful and engaging children’s books recently purchased through your donations. Children in Myanmar are just like children here — they want to enjoy colorful and engaging books! Now we can offer them many more. Thank you. 

Supper on Thursday night was very memorable. I had the joy of hosting the leaders chosen by the ladies of the congregation. We enjoyed sharing a family-style meal and a free flow of ideas about ways to help women and children in the area. This group of ladies pray together each week and their love for one another as well as their community is evident. How beautiful is the body of Christ!

Walking with Jesus is certainly never dull. A few weeks ago I had no idea I would be making such a trip this fall. I am grateful for your generosity and for the calling by Jesus to partner with His vision in extending the family of God. I am also thankful to be back home, safe and sound. 

Thanks for having a cuppa with me,


The Quest to Stay Refreshed

It’s been a while since I shared with you in A Cuppa with Nancy. Today, I am sitting at my kitchen table, looking out on our beautiful backyard as I write. We have had a very rainy year so far, so the grass is extraordinarily green. Instead of my usual hot cuppa, I am enjoying a tall and fat glass of delicious iced tea, brewed from Marks and Spencer’s Gold Bag (if you are into details). Ahhhh, so nice. 

When I ponder the need for refreshment, my thoughts travel to Vietnam. There is no place hotter or more humid than Vietnam, in my humble opinion. Nowhere else is a cold drink more appreciated.

Iced Vietnamese coffee

Iced Vietnamese coffee

Iced Vietnamese coffee (with whole milk, no sugar, my preference) comes with iced lotus tea at no charge in the thousands of coffee shops across Vietnam. The Vietnamese are proud of their coffee and rightly so. 


In the above photo, you will see Pastor Dennis with Minh, enjoying conversation while sipping on his cooler of choice, a fresh coconut. This is a double duty treat. First, you sip the restoring water of the coconut through a straw, then you can scoop out some of the tender meat of the coconut with a spoon. 

My refreshing drinks here in Hot Springs, Arkansas are many. First is our wonderful, free mineral water with a slice of lemon or lime, Topo Chico mineral water from Mexico and iced black or herbal tea with mint from my herb garden (a nod to my Kentucky roots). 

Did you know that by the time you experience thirst, you body is signaling its need for rehydration? It is important to pay attention. 

Keeping my spirit refreshed isn’t always automatic for me. I can allow the cares of my day, critical thoughts or “phantom conversations” in my head, to leave me spiritually parched. 

The solution is simple, it lies in returning to Jesus and partaking of Him, the Living Water. This calls for repentance, reflection and drinking deeply of His grace and goodness. After 53 years of following Him, I need Him more than ever to refresh me when the cares of my day leave me thirsty and dry. 

As the “dog days” of summer are upon us, let’s remember to keep hydrated for our bodies’ sake and to keep on drinking deeply of God’s presence for our souls’ sake.

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.’” -John 7:37



Cuppa with Nancy: Through the Valley of the Shadow

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.” Psalm 23:4

Today’s cuppa is an organic black tea from Yunnan Province in SW China. It tastes like fall, rich and satisfying, with hints of smoke and dried peaches. Both the tea and the quiet hour are restorative. Rays of sunshine highlight the green, gold and garnet leaves of our dogwood trees. It’s ironic...the same frost that blighted some of our landscape plants has coaxed the deeper, more glorious hues of the dogwoods. Thank you, Lord, for giving us seasons in nature and in life. Thank you that your mercies are new for me this day and everyday.

Elizabeth and Ko Kyi at a church celebration meal

Elizabeth and Ko Kyi at a church celebration meal

Elizabeth and her husband Ko Kyi have led Firefall International/s Reading Room outreach for a few years in Myanmar. Their son is in grade school, a very outstanding and sensitive little boy.

About three months ago, they were blessed to welcome baby Rachel into their family. She was delivered by cesarean birth in total health. However, the next three days for Elizabeth were a journey through the valley of the shadow of death.

Her heart rate began racing, her oxygen rate fell to less than 70 and her blood pressure soared to 175/140. She was terrified. The doctors took her baby from her. Most frightening to Elizabeth was the stream of estranged relatives (on account of her conversion to faith in Jesus) who lined up to visit her at the hospital. She knew they were coming to pay their respects before her death. She cried out from her heart, “Lord, save me, save me!” She heard nothing in response, but knew her husband and others were praying. She waited in the shadow.

Meanwhile, the doctor asked Ko Kyi to prepare his heart that Elizabeth might not make it, saying they had done all they could. At first, he was overcome with sorrow at the thought of losing her and raising their two children alone. As he waited in prayer, a peace settled on his heart and he began to thank God for her salvation and the realization that if she did die, they would be reunited in heaven. “I had an assurance and a hope”, he said. “I also realized my mother put her life at risk in giving birth to me. I determined to share my thanks to her.”

On a Saturday evening in my home, Pastor David sent a photo of Elizabeth with Rachel shortly after the birth. The baby looked lovely, but as I studied Elizabeth’s swollen face, I knew in my spirit that her life was in grave danger. I began to pray fervently and with tears over the next two days. The local church in Myanmar prayed without ceasing.

Gradually Elizabeth’s vitals began to stabilize. She was restored to full health! A recent scan of her heart confirmed this.

Holding precious little Rachel (her Burmese name means Snow Emerald)

Holding precious little Rachel (her Burmese name means Snow Emerald)


Three weeks ago, I had the joy of holding their chunky, beautiful daughter and hearing them recount the story of their miracle.

When asked what was different in her life since these events, she shared two things:

  1. A new gratitude for life. “When my eyes open each morning, I thank God for this, that I am still alive today, because of His protection and grace.”

  2. A resolve to live for Jesus with all her strength. “I realize the time is short in this life. Every day is a gift.”

May this story of Elizabeth’s miracle touch your heart with conviction and encouragement today.



Cuppa with Nancy

Summer of Surprises

Volunteers in Vietnam teaching children

Volunteers in Vietnam teaching children

Arkansas summers are not my cup of tea, or should I say not my tall, frosty glass of iced tea!

Being freckled and fair, these 115-degree heat index days leave me drained and surly if I am honest. I long for the delightful breezes of April and October and the comfort of my old jogging suit. For me, summer in Arkansas is to be endured, at least the months of July and August. 

This summer, however, has been one of "suddenlys" and surprises. In May, our associate in Vietnam wrote to ask if he could spend a few days with us in early June as he was between Seattle and Pittsburgh on business. We enjoyed hosting him for a few days of fellowship and relationship building. During a conversation with a pastor and longtime friend of Firefall International, I shared the concept of sending college age volunteers to Vietnam to work in a children's center serving orphans and underprivileged children. Some preschoolers are guarded in their meager homes by siblings aged 8 or 9 while both parents work to put food on the table. This pastor immediately said, "I have two guys who need this opportunity. Can we set something up for July?" A day or two later, I found myself in the Little Rock airport introducing our associate from Vietnam to the two young men who would soon be spending a month serving in a culture a world away. 

Here we are in late July and the guys have been there two weeks already. The trip has been beneficial to both the college guys and the kids. The guys are gaining the priceless gift of a larger worldview enhanced by the compassion that cross cultural service gives if we come to it as learners, not experts. The children have grown in their English language acquisition, an amazing "lift" for disadvantaged children there. New friendships have been forged, treasured memories formed and a newfound appreciation of the many advantages in their lives. They toured a hospital a few days ago where 2-4 people share one small bed due to overcrowding. 

I have had the joy of hearing from the guys via Messenger every day or two about their strange and wonderful summer. At first, I had to face some jealousy that I was the "sender" and not the "goer" this time. As I embraced my assignment of coach and cheerleader, my days have been full of prayers for them and the children, plus laughter as they are stretched by new foods and customs. They are not fans of soup for breakfast. 

What a joy to be a tiny part of something God has sovereignly orchestrated to touch all these lives.  Hopefully, I will remember the summer of 2017 as the first time we launched volunteers to SE Asia and not another dreaded Arkansas scorcher. Their joy has become mine and that is sweeter than a giant gulp of southern sweet tea!


Cuppa with Nancy

A Symphony of Serving

I've been home from Myanmar for a few weeks. Yes, it's wonderful to return to my husband, my creature comforts and my two labs. Of course, there's no place like home. Each day I return to memories of the acts of service I received while there. To witness and partake of joyful serving is to be touched, softened and changed.

I am enriched by spending time among a community of Jesus followers who have learned how to serve. Pastor David's mother remembered my favorite Burmese snacks and welcomed me with them at the football stadium. Sister May insisted I wear one of her coats during a chilly night of Firefall Football Challenge activities in her courtyard. Jonah, our driver, arrived at our hotel on time and with a wide smile on his face, even when we had tire trouble on the road.

At May's farm, food for 200 was prepared, aluminum plates were filled, delivered and later washed in a symphony of serving. The laughter in the kitchen among the cooks and servers made the rest of us jealous to be with them. They understood the secret of serving and their joy was contagious.

I return with a deeper appreciation of the way serving touches the heart and paves the way for the love of God to enter. I know this because I experienced it firsthand. There's a fresh longing in my life to follow the One who said,"For who is greater, the one who is at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves." Luke 22:27

Time to give it away!

A Cuppa with Nancy

Sand in My Shoes

Today’s cuppa is a fine Earl Grey tea from Sri Lanka, crafted by Dilmah. This is the first tea of its type that does not need milk to tame it for my tastebuds. Just a sliver of lemon and I am good to go! The fruity and full taste is simultaneously bracing and calming. It is a tea I will surely pack for teatimes, both morning and afternoon, during the many hotel stays to come.  

As my departure date for Myanmar ticks down to one week away, my expectation and excitement is rising. Crazy as it sounds, I love travel! Many ask how I can stomach the 16-hour, non-stop flights, the cramped seating, the oxymoronic “airline cuisine” and the jet lag which gift wraps both the departure and return across multiple time zones. 

To my mind, these things represent a small, low door one stoops to pass through into a wide arena of tastes, sights and experiences.  

My work with Firefall International gives me the privilege of strengthening national believers who are introducing the person of Jesus Christ to those who have never heard of Him.  I receive much more than I give. My heart is enlarged and challenged by interacting with heroes of the Christian faith.

My grandmother loved to travel, too. She used to say, “I’ve got sand in my shoes,” as she and Pa rambled across southwestern USA for month-long tours in their camper after retiring from their dry goods store in our small Kentucky town. I get it. Jim can attest that I am happiest when there is an open suitcase in a corner of our bedroom. I fill it with culturally appropriate clothing, a few creature comforts and items like copies of “The Jesus Film” on DVD in the Burmese language. Sometimes it’s vitamins for children, whatever is needed at the time.

Please do not pity me for the globe-crossing treks I make. To others, they might be torture. In my eyes, this love of travel is part of God’s design of me for the work He has given. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

How satisfying to realize that my delight in travel is part of God’s design and delight, too.

The suitcase is open, the packing list lies beside it. Let the countdown begin! Please join me on this adventure by praying day by day. A prayer itinerary will be emailed out next week, so make sure you're signed up for our emails.


A Cuppa with Nancy

Nancy receives a coconut stuffed steamed bun at a riverside tea shop in Myanmar.

Nancy receives a coconut stuffed steamed bun at a riverside tea shop in Myanmar.

Today the cuppa is not my usual tea, but a delicious pour over from Ethiopia. I sip the dark and fruity brew and look out the window, studying the bare limbs of trees saluting the pale winter sky. My heart is still but full of expectation for 2017. "What is your promise for me, Lord?"

As I wait, a verse comes to mind. "Ask of Me and I will surely give the nations as your inheritance." Psalm 2:8. In this verse, Father is speaking through the ages to Jesus. As these words land in my heart, I am reminded that in Christ Jesus, this promise is mine as well. We are family. His mission is my mission. 

My response is a big smile from the inside out. I want to know the heart of Father more and live in confidence as He brings it to pass.

My heart inquires, "Lord, how do you want to order my day to extend the inheritance of Jesus?" For me, this involves conversations over lunch and afternoon tea with dear friends plus research and emails while planning the outreaches through soccer in Myanmar in April. Being a 62-year-old soccer mom is more fun than I could have ever imagined. I am grateful for my unconventional assignment, filled with wonder that He picked me for His team so many years ago.