Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Quiet Mornings

Something I have enjoyed tremendously since we have gotten home is quiet mornings. Sitting on our porch, with my Bible, my journal and my coffee, spending time with the only One that matters.  Today, though was extra special.  God woke me up at 4:00 a.m. with a child that needed something. After we got him back in bed, I desperately tried to fall back to sleep.  Michael also, couldn't quite go back to sleep.  He got up at 5:00 to go to prayer with some other men, so I decided to come downstairs to spend some quiet time with God.  Well, my quiet time with God was not what I expected at all.  It was better than I could've expected.  I got to spend time with Him and then He led me to have a conversation with an incredible young lady.  I had brought my phone out with me because I was checking a different version of a scripture reference and my phone showed that this young lady was on Facebook.  Well, we started talking and God just dropped down into the middle of our conversation.

We can keep ourselves so busy or self-consumed that we miss what God is putting in front of us.  This has happened to me so many times, I am sure. I am praising God that he slowed me down this summer and showed me how to listen to Him and His promptings. This is something I think God is preparing me for when we serve in Guinea Bissau.  Interruptions will become a common occurrence. I love quiet mornings, but I am so blessed by the sweet interruptions. My word to you is be open to God's interruptions.  Be willing to put aside what your agenda is and listen to the promptings from God, His whisper in the storm.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Christmas in July

What did we do the week we were in Indiana? Christmas in July of course! 

 Karen's mom surprised us with a tree. 

Grandma played Christmas carols on the piano and we sang along.  

Grandma had ornaments for us to decorate. The kids really enjoyed the glittery glue and gluing ribbons to their ornaments.  

Grandma helping Micah with her ornament. 

Grandma made popcorn for them to string.  

I think more popcorn was eaten than strung... 

...but we did get some strung. 

Our beautiful tree all decorated.

The kids were quite proud of their tree.  

A little goofiness for the camera.  

We had given Grandma a box of our old t-shirts a while ago that we saved for a quilt.  We were thinking one quilt, well, we got four! 

We have two pictured here, but they were all beautiful.  Grandma did different themed quilts. The purple one pictured above, is Karen's and the one pictured left is Michael's.  This was very special to us.  Let's be honest...Michael cried...alright, I had tears too.  

Grandma got Jada a sewing kit, so she is now our official family mender.  Grandma was, but our mending pile would grow quite high in Guinea Bissau, so Jada has now moved into that role with her sewing kit.  Grandma made Micah's doll, Molly, an African skirt out of tie & dye material from the women of Catel, Guinea Bissau (pictured above right). The boys got some cars that they will easily be able to take on the plane and Lydia got a gift certificate to buy some books for her kindle.  These were not typical Grandma gifts (usually she makes something similar for all the grandkids), but they were all very practical gifts for our new move.  

All five kiddos with Grandma. This was a very memorable day from our visit to Indiana. Thank you Grandma for making this special for us.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What is faith?

Faith is believing. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The truth is, it’s not that simple. Faith is hard, it's tough. Faith is knowing that when your Grandma passes away, it was God’s plan. God wanted to take Grandma home. Faith is recognizing the blessing it was to have Grandma for 33 years of my life. Faith is knowing that having surgery three days after you bury your Grandma is God’s perfect timing. Faith is resting in the chaos of having to go to World Missions Institute 10 days after your surgery. Faith is believing God is in control when your mom has to have heart surgery on the only Friday you have free in a 6 week block of time. Faith is knowing her recovery is in our Creator’s hands. Faith is not easy. Faith is choosing to follow God even when it is hard. Faith is knowing that God is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 

All of those experiences I have listed happened in less than two months. Walking with the Lord, is not easy. There will be trials, there will be temptations, but with faith, we keep on persevering. James 1:2-3 says this: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. I am thankful for the trials we have gone through. I am thankful for how my faith has grown in those trials. My mom having heart surgery was the icing on the cake, so to speak. Losing my Grandma was one of the most difficult things I have ever walked through, losing my mom would have been devastating. God was with me. He never left my side. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” I know that God was also with my mom. He never left her and he never will. His big arms are wrapped around her and His hands have been healing her. It is through faith, that these trials draw me closer to God. I encourage you to keep persevering.  Keep pressing on. 

Faith is why we are leaving everything we know, everything our children know, everything we love, to serve God in Guinea Bissau.  We want the people of Guinea Bissau to know God the way we know God.  We want them to experience the same joy and peace we experience. Our God is a mighty God, He is a strong God. 

In all those things, we had faith, and now, we are having faith that we will be fully funded in order to go and serve in Guinea Bissau this August. We are at 86%, we have to be at 100% to go.  We have faith that God will provide our last 14%.  

I leave you with these questions...What is faith? Do you have faith?


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lydia's thoughts

Lydia wanted to be a guest writer for our blog, so here it is. Short and sweet, but it's her heart.  

We have finished training and we are at my grandmas house. I love the thought of going to Africa. The more we talk about it the more I get excited about going. I can't wait to finish our fundraising so we can go. I don't like the thought of leaving my friends but I have to. If I want to listen to God I have to go. Please help us with our fundraising. We just need 16% so we can go!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Yay Duck, Yuck Duck

We have now finished our month long training at World Missions Institute.  Throughout this past month, we have learned through many speakers about basic theory, real life experiences, case studies, cultural experiences and we've heard a variety of spiritual journeys. The most impactful part of WMI for us was when we watched the EE-taow video (more here ) and the next day, Mark Zook came to speak to us, and I am sure none of us wanted him to stop. He shared with all of us how he and his family went to a remote tribe that had never seen white people before and proceeded to learn their language and culture and then began to teach them about Jesus Christ. He took us through the things they did in order to establish a ‘ground’ to share the gospel.  The first thing we need to do is learn the language and culture of Guinea Bissau before we can do anything.  That was a central theme of our entire four weeks.  We want to form relationships with the people and know them well, so that when we do have opportunities to share, it can be in their context and in a language they understand. 

Beyond the teachings at WMI, we built friendships with some great people.  We lived together, ate together, worshiped together, prayed over each other and our children did all of those things with their friends.  We are connected.  When we had to say goodbye on Saturday, tears couldn't help but be shed.  Some of the people we were with, are not with EMM and we may not see them again.  God touched each of us in a different way, but he worked in all of us so powerfully.  It was a blessing to be able to pray over our friends, and to bond with missionaries that will serve all over the world.  We had a hymn sing one evening. It was the first time Michael or I had been a part of a hymn sing, and we really enjoyed it. 

Our kids had a wonderful four weeks too. The childcare workers that took care of them were just phenomenal. They were all so creative, enthusiastic, loving and caring.  Our children were loved and they taught them so much.  They have all these wonderful songs they know, one of our children learned how to swim, they played games, did crafts, field trips, just so many things.  The best way to show you is through pictures.  

Settlers of Catan was the favorite game of the month.  At any given point during free time, kids could be found playing, and when the kids were sleeping, the guys were playing.  

The kids got to go to a dairy farm where Josiah milked a cow.  

Here they are playing a game and they are doing an Indian in a teepee.  

This is the older kids class. They all had a blast together.  

That is a glimpse into our kids life these past four weeks.  Like I said before this was a wonderful experience for all of us.  We are all so thankful for the things we have learned.  Oh, one last thing we learned, yay duck and yuck duck.  They are a pair of ducks, or a paradox.  Each day, we all get to say one thing that was good about the day, the yay duck, and one thing that was bad about the day, the yuck duck.  Our prayer is that this will help our kids to know that it is okay to have things go badly, but also to be able to see the good in it.  This was an idea that was told to us from another WMI participant that learned it from another missionary.  We loved it, so we are adopting it for our family.  Yay duck for today, we got to spend the day with family. Yuck duck for today, we had to say goodbye to my aunt this morning.  What are your yays and yucks for today?