missing Malawi

Fourteen months is a drop in the bucket on the eternal scale of time, but it is no small amount regarding it’s weight of internal impact.

We are not the same people we were when we cautiously walked down the steps of that small plane and breathed Malawi air for the first time.

Not only has our family grown in number, but we have been stretched and strengthened in ways unforeseen and unexpected from the time we first crossed the ocean.

We made a home in Malawi, and for over a year we shared life with new and wonderful people around us.

Deep down in our hearts and souls, it was no small thing.

. . . . .


. . . . .

The sun would rise each morning, along with a culture waking with eagerness to earn enough kwacha to satisfy stomachs for the day.

The birds would sing their native tunes.  And then there were the crows.

Rosie would lie beside the porch swing, her ears twitching and swishing troublesome flies as her belly would rise and fall fast, still panting from chasing those crows.

She was determined to catch one and clearly believed she could.

Claire would whiz by with new-found confidence and skill on her two-wheeled bike, while Karis’ tricycle would ride heavy on the cement as she peddled hard with her face focused – and adorable.

There was an elephant made out of tire that hung from a backyard tree by a long, strong rope.  It would swing high and free as no-hands, eyes-closed squeals swirled and made a mama nervous.

John David would walk the yard, kicking dirt and making his Croc-clad feet dirtier than one could imagine.

Life was challenging in Malawi.

There were frequent, long power outages, water shortages making every shower (when “shower” was an option) a race against temperature and water pressure, language barriers, cultural differences, and the constant mindfulness of mosquitoes and malaria.

But life was good.

It was slow and weighty.  Yes, the stresses of the day weighed heavy, but so did the meaning of what we were eternally grateful to be experiencing.

And just because we are back in America doesn’t mean that we are not still connected in some small way to what God is doing there.

It’s just different.

And I’m missing Malawi today.


what’s going on

We prayed and cried and talked and talked and cried and prayed . . .

and then David wrote this letter.

imageone month ago today : August 19, 2016

Our heads are spinning a bit, our hearts are on two different sides of the world, and life is a little fuzzy right now.

But what is clear is that God is good.  He is faithful.  He will not abandon us, and – by His preserving grace – we will not abandoned Him . . . nor His mission to love and serve the world He came to redeem.

Though we expected to be in Africa for at least our first three-year term, we did not expect to be back in America after 14 months.  But here we are.

We are unsure what our next step will be, but I am so thankful that we are at peace – as a couple, as a family, as children of God in the palm of His Sovereign Hand and as participants penned onto the pages of His Grand Story.

imageour last Sunday in Malawi : August 14, 2016

imageour first Game Day in Alabama : September 10, 2016


a letter from David

Greetings dear faithful prayer partners,

When we landed here in Malawi a little over a year ago this was definitely an email that we did not anticipate writing at this point in our journey. Though it will, no doubt, come as a shock to many of you, and perhaps even a tremendous disappointment to some – we are announcing our resignation with the International Mission Board.

This is not a decision that has been reached hastily, nor is it one we make lightly or detached from the awareness of all the various ramifications involved in such a decision. It is, however, a decision we feel the Lord’s pleasure in and have His peace on as we make it.

There were basically two primary elements involved in this decision making process: calling and timing.

This has been a tremendous year of almost daily wrestling over the call of God on my (David) life. In short, our year here in Malawi has been used by God in so many ways (many of which I am sure we will not be able to discern until the consummation as we gather around the table of the Lamb in collective marvel at all His surprising workings through His saints). One of the intentions of the Lord, however, in sending us here for this time was, we believe, to crystallize His calling on my life to Pastoral ministry.

I know it sounds strange, (‘The Lord led you to Africa so you could hear with crystal clarity a call to Shepherd in the States?”) – yet it would not be the first time the Lord has used the “go and I will show…” way of guiding His people on the providential path He has marked out for them. Admittedly, that divine providence is at times difficult to read. But we know for sure that this time has not been a waste! There is so much that we have learned and lived as a family. There are so many relationships that have been forged with African believers and church leaders. There are so many fellow missionaries that have sweetly lodged themselves into our hearts as genuine family for all eternity.

We feel that we were following the Lord’s lead in coming here. We feel that we are also following the Lord’s lead in continuing to press into the mission of Jesus in the context of a shepherding role back in the states. To put it plainly: God has made me to be a pastor. We had come to this resolution a few months ago, but had determined that unless something unexpected happened to speed that pastoral pursuit on quicker then we would finish our first 3 year Apprentice term with the board.

That leads to the timing issue. Many of you will remember that we just welcomed our fourth child, little Judah, into the world in December. Well, we certainly did not expect that just a few months after his first birthday we would have to start calling him ‘big brother!” When we found out that we were expecting our fifth so soon we really sought the Lord’s face and in the seeking we felt that this news was the lever that the Lord was using to speed up our timing in pursing the pastorate again.

We want to thank all of you for being so faithful, not only in interceding for our family, but in the prayerful partnership in the gospel that you have joyfully yoked yourself to. Our desire is not to abandon the work here on the African front. We hope to be able to engage it from another angle, namely by mobilizing a local body to develop passionate partnerships with our IMB personnel and African church leaders. We hope that you will continue in this work as well.

We also hope that you might hold us up in prayer in what is another difficult transition for our family. We have no idea where the Lord might allow us to serve. All of us (kids included) are grieving having to say goodbye to Africa (which has become home) and will continue to grieve in some way I am sure. Could we ask you to once again bathe us in your prayers during this time?

Thank you. We are humbled and honored to be serving together with you in this great enterprise of seeing the Living Word be heard by all those who are desperate for good news.

Held Fast; Holding loosely,

The Kizziahs

(David, Katie, John David, Claire, Karis, Judah, and ?)

on pregnancy

We will never understand this side of Heaven why so many things happen . . .

and why so many things don’t.

Like pregnancy, for instance.

No doubt this word carries with it a huge gamut of emotions for women.

Some hear the word and they long for it, waiting and praying their time will come.

Others hear it and fear, remembering when it was and then it all too soon was not.

Then there are those who dread, knowing their hands are full and couldn’t imagine adding another to the mix.

Meanwhile, many are confused, wondering why it happens for those who would destroy life and why it doesn’t happen for those who would lay down their life for another.

All of that to say, “pregnancy” is a loaded word, and I am fully aware and very sensitive to the fact.

So, as I sit here typing, finding out just a few days ago that the Lord has placed another life inside my womb . . . (yes, another baby, and yes, that’s right, we just had a baby) . . . my mind cannot help but scroll through the spectrum above and think about how others feel.

Not that I am implying that I think others care that deeply about my life personally.  However, I do know when any woman hears the news of any other woman expecting a baby, their mind immediately links to some kind of tender, deep, personal emotion – good or bad, happy or sad.  And I care about that.

For David and me – in the midst of our head-spinning and heart-spuing, celebrating and rejoicing that God has graciously given us another precious, priceless life, all the while feeling crazy and ridiculous, wondering if we can really handle FIVE children – we are aware (and also unaware) of so many women that are walking a hard road.

One day, for those who are in Christ, we will stand before the throne of God and say, “Ah, yes.  Now I see.  Now it all makes sense.”

But until that day, there is so much pain in this life, mixed with a lot of confusion and a lot of questions.

Yet there is also so much JOY in the Story that God has authored before time began.  Each person is a unique part of that beautiful work, and God is a good, good Father.

All the while, I pray for grace to say that and live like I believe that, no matter where I find myself on any given spectrum.



Thank you

For All The Happy mEmories shaRed

For All The Hours of Energy pouRed

For All The Heavy Emotions caRried

For All The Humble prayErs pRayed

For All The Humor wE Remember

For All The Heartfelt Encouragement tReasured

For All The Hugs Each moRning

For All The Hot aftErnoons on tennis couRts

For All The Hundreds of milEs tRaveled together

For All The tHousands of milEs you tRavel to see us now

Yes, thank you for being and continuing to be this FATHER (and so much more) to me –

and to the rest of us!

 I love you, Dad

Happy Father’s Day


praying to pass well

“When the cares of my heart are many, Your consolations cheer my soul.”

[Psalm 94:19]



“Security is not about where you live, but where you dwell.”

[Kevin Rodgers]


“LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth, 

or ever you had formed the earth and the world, 

from everlasting to everlasting You are God.”

[Psalm 90:1-2]








“When God moves us out of our comfort zone –

into places that are way bigger than us,

places that are difficult, hard, painful . . .

We are being given a gift.”

[Ann Voskamp]

We find ourselves praying for grace to be ever-aware of this [ofttimes disguised] gift.  Behind all of the uncomfortable, we are being convinced it really is.

. . . . .

It was last Monday (May 30th).  We were sitting around the dinner table with candles lit from the third power outage of the day.

Thankfully this amount has been infrequent as of late.

The girls were singing all 10 verses of “10 little ducks went swimming one day” (actually, I think it’s just 5, but they didn’t hesitate to double!), and they never once let up on their enthusiasm.

Judah – snug in my lap after just finishing his bottle – was working hard to join in with the singing.  He is discovering his voice (which I never want to take for granted), and it is darling.

John David grabbed an extra dinner roll as he excused himself from the table and the performance.

Not too far from the quacking concert, he walked the living room floor, taking big bites of bread and, no doubt, dropping crumbs sure to allure the all-too-frequent but entirely unwelcome visiting ants.  Things are very dry around here now, and critters are fiercely on the hunt for water and food.

He was still wearing his school P.E. uniform from the day – and a cap, of course – along with David’s running shoes that he had discreetly slipped on.

It seems John David’s feet multiplied in size overnight, but I’m relieved to know it’s not quite time for he and David to share sneakers.  But it is crazy how much he has grown since we moved here almost a year ago.

John David’s steps made louder by oversized shoes seemed to be in sync with the ticking of the clock . . . reminding me all too loudly of how quickly time is passing.

This was John David’s last day as an 8-year-old.

And these are the treasure moments –

the singing, the laughing, the baby squeals, the 8-year-old long-legged boy pacing the floor in his Daddy’s shoes, us all around the table together . . .

the moments that make me want to scream, “Freeze!”

So, I don’t want the busy that surrounds us to bombard the beautiful –

or the stress and strain to sweep away the sweetness of these fleeting moments.

I want to drink it all in and savor each second with a thankful heart,

knowing we will pass this way [this place, these people, these children, this season of life] but once . . .

where I found myself today

For me (Katie), Thursday afternoons consist of joining my friend, Laura, and gathering with a group of dear ladies at my language teacher’s church in a nearby village.  We pray and sing (and sometimes dance😉 ), study and discuss God’s Word, learn Bible stories, and then pray that the Holy Spirit will accompany us as we seek to share His love and truth throughout the village.

This week we were learning the story of Jesus calming the storm, and the women had fun incorporating some drama.

But where I found myself today, I felt much like the disciples in the boat . . .

. . . . .

As soon as I see the water ripple, the internal wrestling ignites.

Waves begin to rise around me, forming fear that seems to shadow solid faith and forces me to double over with doubt.

All too quickly I feel vulnerable and helpless.

Every remark in my direction – like wind over an open wound – causes me to cling and cringe, reminding me of how inadequate and incapable I am.

In the moment, it is as if I can do nothing well and nothing right.

But I can cry.

So I do – streams of struggle and words of wanting . . .

Yet, Jesus, You hear.

You are awake, and You are wise.

You listen, and You love.

And You raise Your hands upward and speak powerful words, calming the storm in me before calming the storm around me.  Because only You make it possible for internal peace to precede external calm.

You see that my faith is so small, and You graciously give me the gift of one ounce more as You steadily remind me of Who You Are.

I hear Your words of power, and I see the winds and the waves obey You.

And I know that – by Your grace – I can obey You, too.  And I can trust You – fully and completely.

When my boat shifts and shakes, twists and turns, it is You who turn the pages of this Story You authored before the beginning of time.

I look to You, and I look around.  Everything is calm . . . for a moment.

And when the moment is over, and the ripples repeat and the waves rush,

I pray I find myself remembering that You, again –

with strength in Your hands and power in Your words and kindness in Your character –

will graciously grant another fragment of free faith that will, in turn, give flight to my fears.

Oh, may I never forget each rush of wind that triggers my heart to relish my Redeemer.

And may I embrace the ridiculous reality that this is truly a preferred place to be . . . a place of undeniable dependance on the One who has rescued me.

For when the question is asked, “‘Who is this, that even the wind and the waves obey Him?'” (Mark 4:41), by Your mercy, I will know.

And I will herald Your hard-pressed faithfulness that has never wavered and that has patiently preserved.  Moreover, I will be able to recount with wonder each and every storm that You have stilled in my worn and weary yet revived soul.



What will your favorite color be?

Or your favorite bedtime story?

What will make you smile with pride?

What will make you run and hide?

What will make you jump for joy?

What will be your favorite toy?

Who will be your closest friend?

And for your sails, what will be the wind?

What will be your life-long dream?

Or your favorite flavor ice cream?

There is so much about you that we don’t know!

As the days pass on, time will show.

We have many things to discover, my son.

Our adventure with you has just begun.


Pouring T


From my middle school years on, our family lived in a house on Pleasant Ridge Loop.

And it was Mom that made it home – truly pleasant, a place where we all wanted to be.

The way the house looks now is slightly different from when we lived there.  The outside has been painted, along with the shutters, and there is a new door with a detailed frame above.

But I haven’t been inside the house since we moved, so it all still looks the same in my mind.

There were wooden floors and high ceilings and voices easily traveled throughout.  There was a staircase, and Mom and Dad’s room was at the bottom of it.  At the top of the stairs were three more bedrooms and a balcony that overlooked the living room below.

The rose-colored room on the right was mine.  An assortment of half-filled journals could be found, along with drawing pads and ballet shoes and remnants of little girl-hood coupled with confirming signs of growing up. 

A Jack and Jill bathroom – whose walls continually echoed with pre-bedtime laughter – connected my room to a light blue one that belonged to my little brother.  There was a small basketball goal on the door, a massive Chipper Jones poster on the wall, and quite possibly the largest collection of Nike wristbands in the closet.  Some sort of possibly random but really good music could be found playing, and the ceiling fan was never less than full-blast.

At the end of the upstairs hallway was the cream room belonging to my older brother, just 18 months older than myself.  A worn, comfy couch sat under a large window in the back of his room, making this place warm and cozy in the summertime but slightly more chilly in the winter.  Here he studied hard and read long and – at one point – could be found sleeping on the floor at night in preparation for the summer he would spend in China.

Three very different children, very secure in the love of our home.  Our parents made sure of it.

Mom would call us downstairs for mealtime, and the high ceilings would carry her voice over the balcony.

We would expectantly gather around the heavy wooden table Mom had bought years prior with money she had earned from a craft show.  The table was nestled into a bay window just off the kitchen that overlooked the long back yard Dad kept so neatly mowed.  There was a railroad track behind our house, but the tall bushes made it discreet until the daily train passed, right on schedule.  We thought we would never get used to that train.  However, as years went by, it was nothing short of a comforting sound of normalcy.

Mom, Dad, and three children pulled up chairs to the table with gratitude.  Before us was hot spaghetti noodles, meaty Prego sauce, buttered and seasoned hot dog buns toasted and transformed, and the sweetest sweet tea in Alabama.

As Mom poured the tea over cups full of ice, she was unaware of all that she was really pouring into her children.

As Dad prayed over the food, his meal-time intercession represented years of bed-side prayers he and Mom had lifted on behalf of their family.

The day was discussed and laughter was shared.  Mom was always intentional to not only make sure bodies were fed but that hearts were fed, too.

At dinner’s end, the children they were working hard to raise pushed back from the table she had worked hard to buy . . . and no one was fully aware that when we rose from the safety of our seats, we would one day find ourselves scattered to various parts of the world.

So, after taking this sentimental stroll – on behalf of my brothers and me – I wanted to make time to honor our mom, Teresa.  Besides “Mom”, she has also been known throughout the years by a few different titles: “Mother Teresa”, “Mama T”, “Sweet T”, or a simple, endearing “T” these days, primarily by her grandchildren.

But we want to specifically thank the Lord that Mom has been “Pouring T” every single day of our lives – pouring love and affirmation, wisdom and discipline, patience and grace.

How we wish we could squeeze you right now, Mom, smack-dab in the middle of a big Pugh pile!

But until the day that becomes reality again, know that we are holding you tight in our hearts and bowing to our knees in gratitude for all of the years of your selfless pouring out.

You have been a channel of grace to your three children, and the Lord knew that we needed YOU – all that you poured into us was exactly what we needed to fill us up and to prepare us for what He has had in store.

We love you, Mom, and we appreciate you – more than you will ever know.

Happy Mother’s Day.



contentment in the “little while”


Oh, contentment . . .

you mysterious word.

Even Paul acknowledged the mystery –

he had to learn the secret of being content (Philippians 4).

We are all given the opportunity each day, wherever we find ourselves on this planet, to cling to contentment.

Scripture proclaims that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

But why do I all too often I neglect putting forth the effort and pleading for the grace to unlock this treasure box, to peer into this secret, to dig my hands deep into this gold, and to fully embrace it?

Ah, how rich I would be!

{Father, I beg that you teach me the secret of being content in any and every situation, through You who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).  Not strength to win a game, but strength to be found content wherever I am, whatever my circumstances.}

I recently read these words, and they resonated with me to the core:

“The choice is ours.  It depends on our willingness to see everything in God, receive all from His hand, accept with gratitude the portion and the cup He offers.  Shall I charge Him with a mistake in His measurements or with misjudging the sphere in which I can best learn to trust Him?  Has He misplaced me? . . . The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”  (Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart)

To trust “His measurements”.  To believe at all times that in God’s will I am not misplaced.  To own the reality that God does not make mistakes and that the portion and the cup that He offers me is good.  It is BEST.

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what is promised.  For, ‘Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay . . .'”  (Hebrews 10:36-37)

No doubt, the coming of the Coming One is sooner than it’s ever been!  And while I am in the “little while”, I deeply desire to be found faithful, obedient, thankful, and content.

Is it possible?

Yes!  Through Him who gives me strength!

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  – Philippians 4:11-13