Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Recently I had a middle schooler ask me to write out our journey as it relates to courage: Here is my response. 

I never intended to be a missionary. As a child, I dreamed of being a movie star or a cowboy and even a professional soccer player, but never a missionary. And if my dream occupation didn’t work out, my childhood dreams were full of snapshot pictures like a large home with a white picket fence. Completing this dream was a husband, children, 2 dogs, 1 cat and 3 cars. These snapshots were a “perfect life,” that I would build for myself. After college I met a man that had similar dreams and we were married. We began making this perfect life together in the #1 rated city in the nation.
But as we began growing in our faith, we began realizing through our bible studies and spiritual readings that there is a world outside our perfect world, that is not dreamy. We began realizing that only .1% of the world has wealth like ours. That 27% of the world does not own a bible, or have access to hearing about Jesus, and it began breaking our hearts. We prayed for God to show us what our role was in helping spread His word to all nations. We did not think at the time that it meant for our family to become a missionary family.
As we began this journey, God began changing our hearts. We laid our childhood dreams down symbolizing that we would give up everything if He asked us. We began asking God to change our hearts, and if Jesus wants us to leave, He must show us the way and open doors of opportunity and close doors of our life that we had built. We began seeing opportunities where my husband, Mike, could use his business skills for the mission world. And this is what has happened. We are missionaries working for the Lord to get the gospel to the remaining 27% of the world.
It has been hard~ taking courage~ and it has been good. It is hard because we are giving up our childhood dreams and trading them for God’s dreams for us. It has been hard to watch our kids suffer at our life decision. There is a bible verse in Matthew 7:9 that says, “You parents--if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?” At times they asked to stay (bread) and we gave them a stone (moving and leaving all they knew and loved) But we continue to know that when God asks something of you, obey. And we quote Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” Because in our world today, it doesn’t make sense to sell all of our stuff, sell our almost paid off home, leave a job with great benefits and salary, leave family and friends behind for the sake of Christ.  We pray that God will work it all out. We also say this phrase a lot- “Trust God and leave the consequences to Him.” Because He is worth it. To quote C.S. Lewis from the Chronicles of Narnia, “Is He safe? No! But He (God) is good. And this has been good.

In closing, does it take courage to be a missionary? Doing anything that you believe in takes courage. Although this has not been an easy journey, it is deeply rewarding, joy-filled, and for me, eternally fulfilling. And some days, when I do not have the courage, I know I can depend on God as He says in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” And we know our courage is from Him and for Him.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee...You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up; She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose. 

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in to the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. 
Turning to her daughter, she asked, ' Tell me what you see.' 'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied. 
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. 
The daughter then asked, 'What does it mean, mother?'
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water. 
'Which are you?' she asked her dau ghter. 'When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean? Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy. The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Learning Lessons in Fundraising- Saying No is Okay

Hi! This post is brought to you by Lesley- the 'feel-er' of the family. I want to apologize upfront for this post. The latter half of this post is my feelings and I am 100% transparent, which is scary. But I am ‘Keepin’ it real.’ So here I go. 
Fundraising isn't for wimps or the faint of heart. It is an existential journey into the life of the believer. Since this is what the last 6 months has been in our life, it has become an education to what drives a believer and reveals other qualities as well. Fundraising is hard because you now become the person to avoid in social circles with some people. And that just stinks- from the person who thrives on social interaction. I don't want to be that person. But more on that toward the end of this entry...
When we began this journey, we delved into the realm of fundraising education, reading books, talking with fundraising experts, breathing in everything we could on the topic. One Fundraising movement out there that we immersed ourselves in is the “God Ask,” Steve Shadrach (http://supportraisingsolutions.org/ ) Fundraising Bootcamp Ministry. The underlying thread of the whole fundraising movement is that all that God gives the Christian is under His authority. It is not ‘our’ money, or possessions, or time, or talent, it is God that has given to each of us for a specific reason- we are to stewardto bless the nations. (see Gen. 12), and not necessarily for ourselves to squirrel away for our own benefit. So when we ask other Christians in a very sound, biblical way to fund ‘God’s’ ministry, it is the Christian that prays and petitions the Lord for how the Lord wants His money spent. (1 Chronicles 29:14).  
This is indeed freeing for us. When a believer comes back with, ‘we prayed about this for days, and God has told us ‘no’ or ‘yes’ For us, it is a God answer. And it takes any emotion out of it for us, emphasizing God’s will and taking any personal feelings of rejection out of it. A social person's dream!
We have seen God’s people sacrificially give of their time, their selves and their resources to our local church, fellow missionaries and to us. Oh, to have more Christians pray over bonuses, income revenue, and their paychecks for GOD’s Mission – for HIM! I have seen selfless- sacrificing Christians go halfway around the world on their vacation, come back with malaria, just to encourage a missionary that is reaching a lost people group and to help build a school for HIM. And it is humbling, God-inspiring, and Awesome! There are people out there willing to give till it hurts for God’s mission and I am grateful for THIS body of Christ. I have seen these Christ followers give to the point that it hurts, and there is a sacrifice to GOD and it is glorious, and a beautiful fragrant offering!- But for every Christ follower that lives in such tune with God’s heart, is the encounter with the Christ follower who doesn't get it.  Some that grew up in churches that outsourced the Great Commission and separated missions into a category instead of living a Christ lifestyle that the New Testament speaks of, and it breaks my heart. I am keeping it real.
The gap between the New Testament Christian and many today’s Christian are miles apart. We live in one of the most affluent areas in the world, surrounded by comforts of any kind. If we are in pain, there is a cure. If we need to fix a discomfort, we can get it now. And Satan has done the best job inoculating us from ever stepping outside this comfort zone- to even seek Him in prayer to find out what God wants and leave the comfortable. One of the best lines in the movie, “God’s Not Dead,” (although there were many) - was this one:
 Mina's Mother: Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn't want them turning to God. Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn't seem to be any reason to leave. The door's wide open. Till one day, time runs out, and the cell door slams shut, and suddenly it's too late.
The last observation I have is what I call the" Duck and Run" that has affected us, (well, me really) personally- that we have witnessed and felt. Recently, we saw a couple that we really love and fellowship with, out in the community. She didn't think I saw her, but as soon as she spotted us, she grabbed her husband’s arm and literally ran around the corner, away from us- intentionally. This is the same couple that cancelled a meeting to hear what God is doing in our lives, won’t answer phone calls or return emails. Seriously people, it is okay to say no! But it is hurtful to dodge us like we have the plague.  We truly believe God has a plan for HIS money and HE will guide those to give- but pray about it. It is between you and the Lord. We don’t want you meeting, or giving if it is not the Lord’s will, but I have a feeling that when people run, dodge and avoid, they have not consulted God and felt the peace of saying ‘no.’ Just say 'No,' but don't run for cover- that is the part that hurts. Especially to this 'feel-er' and social creature. And that is a hard lesson to learn with fundraising for God's Mission in our lives.
While that was about the ‘no,’ we have been blessed beyond belief with those that sought out God in prayer and have said ‘YES.’ I know that God is alive and working in our fundraising time as we are almost funded- (We do need a few more partnerships) -this is a season in my life. Soon we will be on the mission field doing God’s work that He called us to do. As of right now we have been concentrating on raising funds which is the first step to getting to the field. But fundraising will always be an issue- just like in the New Testament- that we have to pray about, be active in, and is the sustaining force of God’s ministry in our lives. So it is not over- But please know there is freedom for both parties when God says, 'No,' or says 'Yes.' Thanks for sticking with me in this very long, transparent post.
I want to leave you with this. It is an article by John Zumwalt who is a missionary. He has been on the field for most of his life. It is a good article so read it. I am praying for you. That all you have- is of the Lord’s and that you pray and ask God what you are to do with it today for HIS Kingdom and Glory and that we obey God in giving sacrificially to HIM where He leads, whatever that may be.

Biting The Hand That Feeds Me

John Willis Zumwalt
John Willis Zumwalt
There are many who don't like to hear preachers or missionaries talk about money. I am one of those. If you're like me, then you may want to skip reading this, because it isn't going to be pretty.
Don't worry, you're not alone, Jesus even turned some people off when He started talking about money. Remember that really rich, young lawyer?
It is always dangerous for people in missions to speak of money. It is far safer to stay with other issues. But frankly I can't, for in our giving, the gap between New Testament Christianity and our American model is exaggerated. Let's look at some examples . . .
Mission agencies do their best to devise schemes and programs that will not challenge our worship of mammon. How many fundraising plans have been launched that convince you that giving can be painless and easy? "A dime a day keeps John in Paraguay," the poster reads. "With our spare change we will win the world to Jesus." If we in the missions relm avoid offense and make it easy for people to give, we will get more nickel and diming the world to Christ than if we challenge people to dig deep and give, even though it hurts.
Biblical giving isn't painless and discretionary. It is sacrificial. It costs us something. Yet most of our giving is from our excess. It costs us nothing. The IRS even rewards us for our charitable giving, allowing us to pay less taxes up to a certain amount. I am always amazed that people are rarely generous beyond what they can deduct. I recently heard of a church that can automatically withdraw your offering from your account, without having to bother you at all. It doesn't get much more painless than that.
Must giving hurt? Yes. It must cost us something; it must be a sacrifice. Hear the words of David in I Samuel 24:24, "I will not burn offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing." And neither should we.
Another disturbing trend is the idea that after I am dead and gone, then I will be really generous and give everything to some great mission agency. God asks us to be generous now with what we have now. It's as though we're saying, "Lord, I have taken the talent you gave me and intend upon my death to will it to the needy." We are really saying, "When I have no more need of it, then sure, I will let it be used for Christ and His Kingdom." That is the ultimate painless gift.
You are not responsible for the lost of prior generations who did not hear of Jesus, nor are you responsible for those who are yet to come. We are each responsible for the billions who today have no way of hearing about Jesus without some radical intervention of Christ's servants. When we refuse to acknowledge the need of the unreached and leave it for after our death, we condemn our generation to hell. Your saving of your treasure for tomorrow's generation sends this living generation to eternity without Jesus.
I made a jump. Is the proclamation of the gospel among the unreached dependent upon your dollars? Not entirely. But to act like there is no connection is wishfully ignorant. "How will they hear unless there is a preacher, and how will they preach unless they are sent?" And how will they be sent without your dollars? Our lack of sacrificial giving is one of the key reasons that untold millions remain untold.
The task to which Jesus calls us is not going to be finished through painless giving. So long as we are not sacrificial in our giving, not willing to become poor that they might become rich, they will never know Jesus. The gap between the primitive church and our "enlightened" age has never been more extreme.
Jesus is clear. He says, "Do not store up treasures for yourself on earth" (Mt. 6:9, Lk 12:20-21).
Somehow I think Jesus is still in His temple watching the offering plate. I wonder if He would categorize our giving as the widow's mite, given in poverty, yet given as a joyful sacrifice or like the rich people's offerings, given painlessly. And if He asked us to sell it all and give the money away, would we, like the rich young ruler, turn and walk away?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Living in Two Worlds

It has been difficult finding words for our updates. We are in the Middle of 2 Worlds right now. Forsaking our former life here to a 'new different' yet we are not there yet- we are still here anxiously wanting to be there. Looking ahead is our motivator as we meet 5-8 times a week with individuals and families to raise funds to go fulfill our calling that the Lord has given us. It has looked the same since making major life decisions: selling the house to downsize to the apartment, living on a missionary budget to prepare to go. For those thousands before us that have done what we are currently doing, they all tell us the same thing. It is a long road to prepare and there will be distractions that try to keep your eyes off the goal God laid out for us. Of lately, Mike's corporate job has offered him a promotion and a pay increase, to which he told them he was leaving his job for ministry. Sometimes I feel like Frodo in Lord of the Rings. The journey has been long and I have to think real hard to remember the Shire. (our Shire is being Pasadena,CA/ Perspective) So there isn't much to really report on, other than say, "We serve an amazing God and He will supply all our needs and He is Good all the time." I read this blog post from our friends Liz and David Even, who are our missionary friends in Africa working for J-Life Ministries (http://www.jlife.org.za/). This blog post from Liz as she is in the Holy Land encourages me as we are still preparing to go and gives wind to my sails and encourages me to press on and think about Jonah and to continue to be obedient to God's calling. I hope this post speaks to you and encourages you to continue to obey the Lord even when it doesn't make sense. May God be glorified through acts of obedience. Go God: 
Post from Liz Even (evenfamily5@gmail.com or www.evenfamily5.blogspot.com)

Jonah moment

Well here as I sit this morning in Tele Viv, other wise known as Jappa, I was thinking of Jonah. As you may know, Jappa is where Jonah hopped on the boat to flee his calling from The Lord. Many times in my life I have wanted to flee from what God wanted me to do or say or go. I remember when The Lord called us to Africa, I thought to myself -I do no want to be Jonah. Whatever The Lord tells me to do, I must do it. That's obedience. But it's more difficult to say than do sometimes.

It can be from the smallest to the biggest thing. It may not be something as 'large' as moving countries but walking across the street to your neighbor or saying a nice word to a frazzled mom as she shops or anything. Saying sorry to someone. Could be anything but whatever The Lord asks of you then we must do it.

Don't have a Jonah moment where you disobey God. I will forever remember Jonah. Now seeing Jappa at the Mediterranean Sea.

The Mediterranean Sea where Jonah hopped a boat to avoid God's calling. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Apartment Life

Who would have thunk that I would be in an apartment? Back to the crammed, crowded space with no back yard, little privacy and lots of noise? Well, it isn't all that. It is amazing. I love our apartment living experience since selling our home back in August. It was a means to an end for us. For us to prepare in the mindset of missionary living, to downsize in our mind and our pocket book and to prepare for Cali. It has been awesome and I wish we would have done it sooner. Shocked? well, i was. But friends, there is a ministry here, and we are thankful for the life God landed us to, here in our little 1150 square foot apartment. We gave the girls the master bedroom since they were to share (and there was no way to get their beds in the second bedroom)- and while they miss their own rooms, there has been something magical with their relationship that has been borne out of the pain of living in tight quarters for the past few months. They are growing closer. Yes, there was a lot of fighting at first-for months- and growing pains that had no where to grow but to each other. and I am so thankful. I want to share 2 other stories about our experience...Al- and Laura-
Both of these friends we made here have been divine appointments for divine reasons. And I pray we are friends for eternity.
Al-. He moved here from Manhattan about a year ago with his wife of 20 years. They moved here to be close to his wife's son and family. Al and Doreen never obtained a driver's licence because in NY, NY there was no real need because they walked to work, walked to the grocery store across the street, walked to the bank. So we became friends with them as soon as we moved in. The Friday before Thanksgiving, Doreen went in to the hospital for surgery. To this day, she is in a coma- as she began having seizures after recovery. I am blessed to drive him to the hospital/acute rehab hospital to visit daily. We have had some amazing conversations about a lot of things. Living in New York, Christ, the church and the culture shock of Texas. We pray daily for Doreen, and if you get a chance, please lift her up in your prayers. She has a long way to go before she can come home.
And Laura. We met her 2 weeks after moving in.
We prayed for these 2 sweet friends before we moved in to the apartment complex, by just praying that God would allow us to meet our neighbors and be shining light for Him. Here is the verse my friend Karen made for us and sat at our front door- Matthew 5:16- We pray God shines brightly here.

Laura is a single mom with 3 boys. We did not know any of our neighbors at this time- but one morning I had a flat tire and Mike hadn't gotten very far on his commute to work, turned around and came home to get me a new tire. My friend Kim was meeting me about noon with a stand up scooter for my broken foot so i could glide around instead of hobbling. We all happened out in the parking lot around noon by coincidence. All 3 of us stood there talking when we heard a shout, "Help Me!" I saw a lady standing by her car, and thought she needed help carrying something in, so I shouted my wifely duty of instruction to my husband to go and help this lady. We soon found out she was having a stroke and couldn't get out of her car and quickly began losing use of her right side. Mike was holding her up, I was shouting to Kim to call 911 and I used the scooter for her to sit on as she couldn't walk. Mike didn't go back to work that day. He followed the ambulance to the hospital and sat with her till her family from Tyler, TX could come to be with her. And God was at work in that ER. Mike and Laura had divine conversations as her speech began to come back and the Dr.'s ran tests. Mike's sacrifice of staying with a complete stranger and missing work resonated with her. She had not personally experienced this kind of kindness before. Mike kept telling her it was because of his relationship with Christ that we are to love our neighbors as our self. She saw something different, it was Jesus. Glory!
I stayed behind to find rides home from school for her boys and a place for them to stay and to call her family. And we have been fast friends since. We found out that Laura grew up in a toxic religious cult. She ran away at age 18 and has been leery of religion ever since. But through our friendship, she has found a church home that is comfortable to her. She is seeking a relationship with the Lord, not religion and her life is changed. God is at work at this apartment complex. Greater things are still to be done here. We love her family so much and consider her family. We visit nightly with hugs and conversation.
Apartment ministry is amazing. There is actually a HUGE need. See  this apartment life ministry. It will take sacrifice, denial of self, and living out the greatest command, love your neighbor as yourself.
God is at work! He can use anyone. He is just looking for someone to obey and love. Go God!

Friday, January 3, 2014

My Prayer for the New Year: 2014

Below is an entire comment from a blog comment section- after the post, “Outlawed Grief, a Curse Disguised,” by Jonathan Trotter on December 22, 2013  http://www.alifeoverseas.com/outlawed-grief-a-curse-disguised/
This blog was re-posted on Facebook by one of our missionary friends in Malawi. I read it and found it insightful and thought provoking. It is written by a missionary oversees and the post is compelling. If you have a moment, please read the blog. Making such steps as we have by putting our ‘Yes’ on the table for Him and allowing Him to put us where He wants us on the map, comes with great thought to me about our kids and their life. This comment from a mission kid stood out to me. In my heart, I have been praying and pondering about our children as we take this quest of forsaking it all and following God’s will and how it will affect them- is our faith, their faith? Or are they just being swept along without a choice or voice? I will trust that the Lord will be glorified in our children's lives and by our decision to be obedient to what He has called us too. Yet, it has been difficult. And it is hard to put in tangible words how. Most people think that the hardest thing to do is giving up the material life, by selling all and living on a shoestring budget to prepare. It is true. Our kids are not in any activities outside of school purposely. We downsized our living environment and gave up ownership of a home. Letting go of dreams are rough, but absolutely freeing at the same time when doing so for the case of Christ. Such a strange dichotomy and thrilling as well, to know that we are choosing God’s life for us and not us choosing our life. In doing so, there will be hardships, consequences and difficulty. Choosing the road of Christ is a lonely one and in it is ‘grief’ that the article spoke too.  But, sometimes the hardest things to give up are the unknown. The ‘how will this affect our children part.’ As a mom, this hits the core of my parenting heart.
The premise of my post is to address the comment below in an open letter to my children. As we embark on this God adventure, my heart aches for them. I choose God, I pray for them in this adventure, that they may see HIM ultimately. Here is the comment that was left after the post:

·         I'm not sure if it's appropriate for me to join this discussion. On one hand, I'm a missionary kid. I know this grief. On the other, I'm not a Christian. And my comment isn't entirely relevant. But I think I will tell the story anyway, and leave the judging to you.
When I was five or thereabouts my parents moved us overseas. It was frightening. I didn't understand why we had to go there when there were people who
needed help right here. But I made some friends, and for a while things weren't so bad. The tectonic plates, as you say, didn't begin to shift till I was in my mid-teens and we took a furlough to the States.
I was so jealous of the people there, who had things I had wanted and didn't know I had wanted. Not just particular foods and good infrastructure and a semi-stable government, but schools with teachers who could be relied upon to reappear the next year, families who saw each other regularly, friends who lived in the same neighborhood and had known each other their entire life, and silly things like media in English and wall-to-wall carpeting and dishwashers.
When we returned in our umpteenth move to our umpteenth house overseas, I was angry. Without any outlet, all that jealousy and anger and yes, grief, turned into depression. I was grieving the life I would never have because of my parents' calling, the friends I had lost and the loneliness I imposed on myself for fear of losing more. I didn't know how to cope. My parents were often busy, and would give me lines like, "Living here is good for you! It's something few other people ever get to experience. When you get older and look back on this time, you'll be grateful for what you learned here." Their comments were well meant, but they didn't know the depth of my pain, and I wasn't very good at explaining it to them. I didn't - don't - understand why God would do this to me. Why the process had to hurt so bad. What benefit it could ever serve. And that was when the carefully cultivated faith of my family broke in me.
My parents were somewhat right. I look back at that dark time and am thankful for what I learned about my own mind and the motivations of others. I wouldn't be who I am, have the skills that I do without it. But deep down, I have never forgiven my parents for their faith, for their insistence on following it. For their prioritization of it over me. I know that's wrong, but it's also true, even if I despair of its truth.
I still grieve the possibilities lost, even if I don't do so publicly. I'm afraid that those around me would see it as inappropriate, after so much time and so many benefits from the chosen path. I think my parents think that I'm reconciled with it all. I wouldn't want to hurt them with my pain.
I write all this because in the stories below, I don't see one quite like mine. It's good to have a variety of perspectives from which to make a conclusion, whatever that conclusion might be. And the anonymity of the internet is a good place to do so.

Wow…when I read it, my heart hurt for this individual and for his parents- and I prayed... And I prayed for them, and for our family. Because this is an example of a family following God’s call and the reality and result of it.- a missionary kid who is not a Christian and quite bitter and resentful for the upbringing and life experience. While I do not know who this person is or where this commentator grew up, lived and what they experienced, it is exactly what nags at me at night. 
Our children may possess the title and consequences of a 'third culture kid,' which has it's own issues. And I trust God to lead us to negotiate the parenting waters of such issues.
While we are not going overseas, we are choosing a life of simplicity that pales in comparison to my children’s peers. We are uprooting them from what they know. In our town, most kids have the newest technology- I phone 5’s, I pads, abundance of material goods: Ugg boots, Miss Me Jeans, designer purses, leather jackets, Access to disposable income: travel to exotic locations for the holidays, multiple activities for each child to make them the best at their craft,- and I am sure in a few years, their peers will not have to pay for their first cars, or their college or …. ~Choices~…bottom line we all have choices. And Mike and I are choosing to ‘FAITH’- Forsake All I Trust Him- and for us Christ is enough. And at their precious age, they are too whether they realize it or not. So I am writing an open letter to Elise and Gracie…

To my Girls, my heartbeats: I have a prayer for this New Year of 2014- and a few thoughts:
There is a Way in this world that is the right way to your daddy and me. It is the road less traveled, but it is the right way and it is the Lord’s Way. You were placed in this family to be a blessing, and the road we will travel may take you down paths that your friends will not understand, but there is One that made you, designed you, and loves you. Trust in HIM, even when it doesn't make sense (Proverbs 3:5-6), internalize and live it that Jesus is enough. My prayer is that when this stuff in the world tries to distract you, that in the end you will discover like Solomon, that in the end it doesn't matter. We can have all the stuff in the world and still be the most unhappy person in the world, see current list of teenage stars in the news. Please know God fills the void this life has to offer- that His Way is always the best. Chasing the American Dream will in the end be fruitless. I pray you chase HIS dream for your life because He has a plan for you, I pray you ask Him what it is. As Steve Saint (Nate Saint's son- see "End of the Spear") told you personally a few years ago, "Let God write your story!" I pray you understand that there is a sovereign God in control of this earth and in control of your destiny. I pray that when you are sad, you can come to me and we can talk, or just cry, or just be silent. And know that we will pray about your troubles or hardships. Know I love you so much, but that God loves you more, that I love you enough to pray for your spiritual, physical, social and mental life. I pray that you understand agape love and experience it in this life of loving your neighbor or family as yourself. And that may motivate your life and saturate your being. I pray that you won’t see moving as a loss, but as a gain in so many ways. I pray you are able to see this as an adventure and not count the cost. I pray that this move in our life to follow the will of God will allow you to stand on our shoulders of faith and that you will accomplish more for the LORD than thought possible. I pray that you come to know the goodness of the LORD and see HIM at work and know that there is freedom in HIM that this world will never offer. I pray you see the power of prayer and a personal relationship with Him. I pray you develop deep godly friendships and find a purpose for your life through HIM. Mostly, I pray that you find a life that will glorify the LORD as you grow. I love you so much and am praying for you. May we all see God at work in mighty ways and thank Him for allowing us to join Him this year. Romans 8:28- "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose." I am so thankful for both of you. God made you both so wonderfully made! I love you.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Fellowship of the Unashamed

Psalm 66:5- “Shout with joy to God, all the earth!” Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!” So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down before you. “
He is the almighty God and we should worship Him for Who He is, for what He has done and for what He IS doing. All of God's great work is not in the past. He is at work even today through individuals, couples and families. We should revere Him because what He is doing right now through people that choose to forsake themselves daily.  Psalms 66:5 says, ~ 'Come see what the works of God, He is awesome in His doing with the sons of man.' What is He doing today that should inspire such awe and inspiration?

We could make a list. Just in our little circle of friends, we want to share with you what God is doing. This is our little Hebrews 11 community, but certainly not all of them. I ask you to take a moment and visit these movements that He is involved in right now. See how AWESOME God's deeds are. See where and what He is doing right now with those that 'GO'. Short of our Savior, I believe  some of God's greatest work will be happening in the days to come through His believers and their obedience to fulfill His mission, by those that Go, Send, Pray, Welcome and Mobilize. I want to focus on the GO-ers today. Behind each of these families is a host of senders, prayers, and advocates and the church. They could not go if it was not for those that obeyed God telling them to send and pray and support. I am thankful for the body of Christ that obeys to get His mission completed.

But firstly, I want to recognize a family that influenced and inspired us several years ago when they obeyed God and moved to East London, South Africa. The Fudge Family. Philip and Becky sold everything and moved to a remote area of South Africa to partner with several movements of God. Among them was a school that they were instrumental in bringing Jesus too. We experienced them sharing Jesus to the least of these- orphans, the sick and afflicted with AIDS, the downtrodden. They are back in America, living out their 'next' journey here in America- but what impresses me most with this family is their obedience to do what God asked of them. They went. They came back. They sacrificed and witnessed God's goodness around the world. Thank you Fudges for your obedience. Your ripples of obedience touched our lives in a profound way.
David and Liz Even: Vereeniging, South Africa ~ working with J-Life in Johannesburg,
South Africa-   As part of David's role at J-Life, he visits between 4-8 countries each year. He meets with the country leader, their family, board members and just gets to serve along side them and mentor them for several days. J-Life's mission is to raise indigenous leaders that will work within their community to make disciples that make disciples. They see that the most successful way to disciple is to start within the community with a  primary focus being training and coaching emerging leaders to implement the disciple making model. For this to be done effectively, potential leaders are recruited annually for a year-long program. These leaders are trained and coached intensively for a four month period and then released to multiply this training by coaching others in local churches. We are so blessed to know the Evens. We love their family deeply. Check out their blog: http://www.evenfamily5.blogspot.com/

Robert and Sandy Spengler: Partnering with Lifesong for Orphans in Zambia, Africa. They have an amazing story. Sandy worked at FBC McKinney as the Missional Life Assistant. What she is, is an amazing guru to the missions world today. She and her husband obeyed God by partnering with Lifesong. Robert is a highly successful construction guru. He and their son, Caleb are behind the building of a school for Lifesong. I copied the following from their blog, " Robert and I will be selling most everything we own so that we can move to Zambia in April (2013) so Robert can manage a construction project for Lifesong for Orphans. We get the privilege to forsake ourselves and our stuff for Him."
What I love most about Sandy and Robert is their heart and that they are the real deal and they are just a couple of gurus. (ha). They are highly successful back here in America. They had everything, and they obeyed the LORD and cashed it in for the Him. Check out her blog. Love the Spenglers.

I recently was talking about this sweet family in the Dallas, TX area, and the person I was
talking to was shocked that there are missionaries here. This family is amazing and we love them dearly. Nathan and Mary Margaret Bogue. Nathan serves as Director of Mobilization to recruit, train, and develop Christ followers to engage and participate in God's mission through The 25 Project . Compelled by the Gospel they seek to bring hope and healing to the “least of these” as Jesus teaches in Matthew 25. Strategically, they serve the target countries of Dominican Republic and Sierra Leone.  The unique call is to disciple indigenous families to model godly life and teaching to orphaned children considered the “least of these” in this world through Christian foster care and sponsorship programs.  Please visit their blog: http://www.thebogues.com/

Meet Mike and Kim Simpson and Family: This family has been on mission for years for the LORD. They obeyed Him when He called them out to depart for Cochabamba, Bolivia on a one-way ticket! From their blog: "For the next year, we will be partnering with LifeSong for Orphans and missionary friends to establish FundaciĆ³n Esperanza Children's Home (Hope Foundation). The foundation will provide Christ centered care for orphans in baby homes, adoptions, foster care families, nutrition, health care, education, transitional homes, and sustainable business programs in Bolivia." They are committed to changing the trajectory of orphaned and vulnerable children in Bolivia. We love this family very much and hope you can visit their website. God is doing amazing things through their obedience. http://simpsonbolivia.blogspot.com

There are many more I wish I could recognize and post. As our journey continues, we find more and more that are stepping out in obedience. Those with careers- good careers, leaving it to obey what God has told them to do. They sacrifice, suffer, and love with abandon the road God has asked them to take. I am grateful to the body of Christ that obeys and acts on what God is calling them to do. The next great works of God will be done by those that are obedient and live intentionally. Many of you know this video by Francis Chan. Please watch it and consider what 'safe' looks like.

and I will leave you with this: I am trying to memorize this as it is powerful word we believe:
This was written by a young African pastor and was found among his papers in Zimbabwe after he was martyred. This essay was given to Dr. Nina Gunter, general NMI (Nazerene Missions International) director, by the late Dr. Louise Robinson Chapman, former missionary and general NMI president.

   "I'm a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of His, and I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I'm done and finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.
   I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right ot first or tops or recognized or praised or rewarded. I live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by Holy Spirit power.
 My face is set. My gait is fast. My goal is heaven. My road may be narrow, my way rough, my companions few, but my guide is reliable and my mission clear. I will not be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed.
   I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of adversity. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
   I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes for His own. And when He does come for His own, He'll have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear!"
 Where are you in the Fellowship of the Unashamed? May we all live out intentional lives for Christ daily and not seek the 'safe' routine.~ Lesley