Monday, December 20, 2010

In Between

We're halfway in between Abbotsford and Fresno!  I'm excited to see our CA friends and family again, but still sad to have said goodbye to our new friends from Canada.  (Silly side story...  We have a Uhaul trailer with a Saskatchewan license plate and walking through a parking lot tonight I wondered if the people looking at us thought we were Canadian.  The fact that our kids happened to be singing "O Canada" might have thrown them off as well.  I even caught myself tonight - I think for the first time! - ending a sentence with "eh?"  The kids thought it was funny - especially since I didn't do it on purpose!  I guess my resistance finally wore off.  : )  What great timing!)

It's hard for me to put into words how much these people have impacted me in the last 3.5 months.  I respect these people and love these people and have learned from and with these people SO MUCH.  Not since I was living on campus in college have I bonded so deeply and so quickly with anyone.  I know, I know...  I'm being a bit dramatic and emotional.  But this weekend I said goodbye to these people and to our downstairs friend and to our kids' teachers and others and all those goodbyes make you realize how much people mean to you.  Knowing that you are going to be scattering to 5 different countries (plus the people staying there in Canada) makes it even tougher.

I don't know anyone who claims to like goodbyes.  I don't think we're supposed to.  It helps us long for Heaven where we won't have to say goodbye anymore.

So for now, we're in between.  In between Abbotsford and Fresno.  In between our home in BC and our next home in CA and another one someday in Peru.  In between being a developer and a stay-at-home-mom and being missionaries.  Between being born and dying.  In the middle of life on earth, on our way to eternity in heaven.

The picture above was taken at the end of our commissioning service on Friday and as we were standing there, Kevin Boese was singing a blessing to us (a song he wrote).  (My goodness, it was so hard not to cry.)  I can't remember all of the words, but will leave you with some of them as you navigate your own "in betweens".

May the peace of Christ go with you
Wherever He may send you
May He guide you through the wilderness,
Protect you through the storm
May He bring you home rejoicing
At the wonders He has shown you
May He bring you home rejoicing
Once again into our doors...

Bless you sweet friends...  I miss you already.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prophetic Panettone?

Sometimes God takes my breath away, makes me laugh and almost cry at the same time.

The other day Lowell brought home a recent MB Herald magazine.  In it was a story written by a former MBMSI missionary to Peru called "The Peace of Panetón."  It was a touching story about the missionary sharing "Panetón" with some Peruvian neighbors and experiencing peace on earth in that moment of breaking bread together.  

The story explained that "Panetón" is "absolutely essential to Christmas in Peru."  I had no idea!  J  I read the story without realizing that "Panetón" in Peru is the same Panettone that shows up in North American grocery stores at Christmastime.  Eventually I figured it out.  And then I remembered.

LAST YEAR at Christmas, as we were out shopping in Fresno for who-knows-what, Lowell decided to buy a loaf of Panettone. On a whim.  No reason.  And then he declared that eating Panettone was going to be one of our new Christmas traditions. 


We had no idea how exactly right he was.

But God knew.

And this year, I’m looking forward to sharing a loaf of Panettone on Christmas Eve with our family.

It’s tradition.  J

Monday, December 13, 2010

Heart's Cry

Would you stop a minute and please pray?

This is Lowell's brother Rigo.  I got to meet him when he was visiting in Canada last month.  His people - WHO ARE OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST - are experiencing severe flooding.  I talk all the time about my house being a disaster, but they are in the middle of a REAL disaster.  While you likely don't know Rigo or the people of Panama, you might be reading this because you care about our family.  Lowell's heart is breaking for these people that he knows and loves, so would you pray for them for our sake if nothing else?

Thank you...  Here's what Lowell wrote on our other blog.

Tonight my heart is aching for people that are hurting. I have been contacted over the past few days by friends and brothers in the MB churches in Panama, specifically in the Darien jungles and the city of Yaviza. Severe flooding there recently shut down the Canal for the first time for weather since 1914, demonstrating the severity of the situation.

An email tonight from my friend Obdulio indicated there is widespread loss of housing and property throughout these communities in the Darien. Families are being hosted in Yaviza, even though 80% of the houses there are without power, and there is some lack of water and food. The Pan American highway into the Darien is flooded, preventing most resources from reaching the people.

Here is a picture of El Salto, one of the communities in the Darien, from my brother Rigo:

Friends and family, pray for God to bring the resources necessary to restore the lives of these people. Pray that He will use this event to His glory, and that His church will be able to be an effective partner in this community restoration.

Thanks for letting me add this into the mix of this week.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

Pregnant with Purpose

Our Christmas Tree!
(Yes, it's a fake ficus tree.  We're moving
in 2 weeks and we love it!)
I don't remember where I first (a long time ago) or last (recently) heard that phrase, but it describes how I feel about life right now.

Funny side note...  this morning I was up first and praying when all 3 kids came out together.  I looked up from my wrapped-in-a-blanket-kneeling position and said, "Well, I'm praying..." and Toby said, "What???"   I repeated myself and he said "Oh.  I thought you said you were PREGNANT!"  Ha!  That made me laugh.  Mostly because if that had been what I was announcing, I would certainly not have told them like that!  (Though I would likely still have ended up on my knees praying!)  Still makes me chuckle.

Anyway!  Back to the real purpose here.  I love Christmas.  I love the Advent season, preparing for the coming of Christ - recalling His coming 2000 years ago in the fullness of His humility and looking forward to His return in the fullness of His glory.  But there is another thing that makes Christmas special for me.  Christmas music is like a soundtrack that takes me back to the special time when I was preparing to give birth to my firstborn.  In between contractions, I listened to Stephen Curtis Chapman's Home for Christmas album on December 13, 2000... waiting to find out if we had a baby boy or a baby girl.  It helped me relate in a whole new way to Mary and the wonder of giving birth to Jesus - the Messiah - Emmanuel - the fullness of God in the flesh and bone of a newborn baby.  (Is there a more vulnerable way He could have come?)  Those songs still stir me with emotion and joy and amazement.

Did you read my last post?  That and the music around me have gotten me thinking about Decembers.  Thinking back to 15 years ago and then 10 years ago, here's what I noticed!

December 1995 - Lowell asked me to marry him.  (I joyfully said YES!)
December 2000 - Lowell and I welcomed Mikaela Renee into our family.
December 2005 - Lowell and I were gathering with a group of people preparing to launch a new church in Sunnyside called The Grove.
December 2010 - Lowell and I are finishing our training to become missionaries with MBMSI.

Seriously, these are some of the most significant transitions that have happened in my life.  (I could even go back to December 1990 when I was putting up Christmas decorations in my dorm as a freshman at Fresno Pacific...  that Fall was the beginning of a significant season in my life as well.  I don't really want to go back to 1985 because that was 7th grade - and who wants to think back there???  hee hee)

It's fascinating to look back at my life this way.  It reminds me that God has a purpose for every season we pass through, to prune and shape and grow us and prepare us for the seasons to come.  Sometimes we feel it and other times we don't, but every season is pregnant with purpose.

Solomon knew this.  He wrote in Ecclesiastes the famous prose about there being a time for everything...  to live, die, mourn, dance...  He said God "has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.  That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil--this is the gift of God.  I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.  God does it so that people will fear him.  Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before."  (Ecc. 3:11-15)

Wow.  Those are profound words.  And they inspire me to pray.

That I will recognize the beauty of this time.
That I will be happy as I do good.
That I will find and recognize the GIFT of satisfaction in my toil.
That I will remember only what God does will endure forever.  
That I would revere and honor Him.
That I would be still and know that He has a purpose for everything that has ever been and ever will be.

And that I would find joy in the knowing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Fear

Father, I remember when we first got here and started training.  The stories of suffering so many have gone through scared me so much.  I remember the day we were practicing listening to You speak to us.  As my small group listened for You to speak on my behalf, one guy heard the words "NO FEAR".  Another had a picture come to mind of me preparing a motorcycle ramp and then riding off of it with (you guessed it) NO FEAR.  I laughed because it was so different than how I felt, but prayed You would work in my heart to make it true.

As we were preparing for our silent retreat a couple of weeks ago, it was so special to me that Psalm 34 was used in our worship time.  Verse 4 says "I sought the Lord, and He answered me.  He delivered me from all my fears."  That was the verse You used back almost exactly 15 years ago to deliver me from my fear of getting engaged to Lowell.  : )  I had been engaged once before to another guy and was scared to get engaged again, but You delivered me from my fear.  Those verses in my Bible are underlined in green felt tip pen and dated 11/27/95.  So here we are almost exactly 15 years later and once again You've been working to deliver me from my fears.  That verse reminds me that what I was afraid of (getting engaged to Lowell) was (aside from giving my heart to You) the best choice I've ever made in my life.  : )

You also reminded me about how I felt before we traveled to adopt Timothy.  (Scared again!!!)  You reminded me of how I felt before leading worship at one of our first Grove women's retreats.  (Scared again!)  You reminded me that the things I have been the most afraid of have turned out to be some of the greatest TREASURES in my life.  Wow.

So as I look toward the future, it's not that there won't be things to be afraid of.  There probably will.  But I'm not held captive by fear anymore.  I still remember when Beth Moore spoke in Fresno about 5 years ago and she said if we weren't pushing past our fears, we likely weren't living in Your will.  So often in this journey people have said "You are so brave!" Father, only You know how much I haven't felt brave at all.  Terrified would have been a better description of how I felt!  But You helped me.  I don't know if this will make sense to anyone else or not, but I know that instead of helping me not be afraid of "scary imaginary situation", You asked me first if I could just trust You with my fear. You said, "Forget the 'scary imaginary situation' and just give Me your fear."  And through my tears, as I did that, the fear melted away.  You delivered me from my fears.  And for that I am so thankful.

But, please don't let me forget...  That was a couple of months ago and sometimes the fear tries to come back.  The enemy tries to make me doubt and dread the transitions and challenges to come and my ability to handle them.  But it's never going to be my ability or strength that will get me through.  It will always be Yours. It will always be Your courage.  Your strength.  Your peace.  Your hand.  Your grace.  Your Word.  Your Truth.  Your Spirit.  Your LOVE.  Your power.  Your presence.  YOU.

So I won't worry about whether or not I will be afraid tomorrow.    
For now...  for this moment, I accept Your perfect peace.  
And again, I say thank You.

"You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in You.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD Himself,
is the Rock eternal."
Isaiah 26:3-4

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Path that Changes

"On July, 22, 1993, I left my parent's house in Fresno in the early morning and spent the day doing construction work on a roof in Reedley. The next day, July 23, at 6:15 AM, my path in life changed."

Read more about Lowell's story here...

We appreciate your prayers very much as we prepare for our meeting tomorrow afternoon with the MBMSI leaders about where we will go serve.  We look forward to sharing more with you soon!!!!!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Giving Up (By Lowell)

I am giving up.  I have held on too long.  I don't have the strength by myself any more.  That is it.

Read the rest of the story on our other blog.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

On the Verge...

Verge.  What a strange word.  According to my favorite online dictionary it means:

1.  the edge, rim, or margin of something.
2.  the limit or point beyond which something begins or occurs; brink
3.  a limiting belt, strip, or border of something

There are actually another 10 definitions for "verge" (inluding "a palletlike lever formerly used in inexpensive pendulum clocks".  Huh.  Who knew?) (I know...  who cares?)

Ummm, I thought I was on the verge of saying something meaningful...  Let's see...

These days I feel like I'm on the verge of many things.  On the verge of catching up with my studies... (I was for a while, anyway.)  On the verge of tears...  On the verge of being in the US...  (We are living only a few miles from the US/Canada border.)  Pretty soon we'll be on the verge of finishing our training.  Probably most significantly, we're on the verge of having an official missions assignment.  In the next few weeks, we'll know where MBMSI is going to send us!  (Assuming, that is, that they still want us on their team...!)  This stirs up a lot of mixed feelings.  It's exciting, but also a bit intimidating.  We've never done this before!

I am so grateful for how God sends me courage just when I need it.  I'm so thankful that He has been showing me over the last weeks that HE is the initiator in His kingdom and my job is just to RESPOND.  I don't need to overthink all of this.  It would be really easy for God to tell us not to do this.  (God has stopped us from doing lots of other things through the years).  On the other hand, there has been nothing easy about getting us to this point!!!  : )

It's actually been quite a climb.  And we're on the verge of seeing what's over the horizon.  Wow.  It's not often in life that I am so keenly aware that I am in the middle of a life changing season.  Maybe I'm on the verge of being over-dramatic here, but this really feels like a big deal.  Bigger than I can wrap my head around.  

So I think I'll stop trying to stretch my brain big enough to grasp the "big-ness" of what's going on and just keep on keeping my eyes on Christ.  He's doing so many really important things in my heart and mind these days.  I'm learning so much.  God is such a good teacher.  : )  

(And, by the way...  I am saying "I" a lot in this, even though Lowell and I are obviously in this together.  But my husband, as strong as he might be, isn't strong enough to drag me along if I haven't made up my mind.  We choose together, but we have to choose on our own as well.)

Anyway, it goes back to being a Responder.  Back in April, the day before we came up to Canada for the first real step of our interview process, I wrote this (almost) song:

It is written that I am the clay and You are the Potter
My life is yours to mold, shape and guide
Through the fire... But Lord, You are so much more
To this one who depends on You
To lead me through this life
I want to live for You

I am the clay, You are the Potter
I am the arrow, You are the Archer
With Your hand on my heart, guiding my path
You are my Shepherd, I'm Your little lamb
I might be the singer, but You are the song
I'm a tool in your hand as You build the Kingdom
I'm a branch, but You are the Vine,
The Gardener and the Life flowing in me

If I am a soldier, You're my Commander
If I am a pen, You are the Writer
If I have a story, it's Yours to author and tell
I am Your child, You are my Father
Fulfill your plans and destiny for me Lord
If You have a mission, I'll be Your missionary...

You have a dream...
I'll dream it with You...
Use me Lord.

God is issuing me a grand invitation to a whole new life serving in His Kingdom.  All I have to do is RSVP.  "Répondez s'il vous plaît."  Respond, if you please...

Wherever, whenever, Lord.  I trust You.  I'll be there.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cave Dwellers

Did I mention that my husband wrote a lovely post on our other blog about our latest adventure crawling around in caves?  No?  I didn't think so.  Except that I just did, so I guess now the answer is yes.  : )  If you haven't read it, you really should.  There's a picture in there of me that will make you claustrophobic just by looking at it.  You're gonna love it.  : )  Or you'll feel sorry for me.  Don't worry though...  I'm fine.  You will be too.

OK...  1, 2, 3...  Go!  (Or click...  or whatever.)

In the Depths of  Mountain


Saturday, October 09, 2010

Confessions of a People Person

"People...  People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world..."

Can you hear Barbra Streisand singing that lonely song?  Back in August when we were trying to pack up and clean up our house and yard, that line from that song ran through my head a lot.  We were people who needed people.  A lot of people.  To clean with us, move our stuff, help pack it, care for our kids, make us food, deal with our yard, pray for us, encourage us...  We needed people.  

But, I confess that I didn't really like all of that needing.

It was uncomfortable.  Needing help is always uncomfortable for me.  I wished that God and Lowell and I could have gotten it together enough that we wouldn't be so obviously needing SO MANY other people to come save us so that we could actually drive out of town on Sept. 1.  The Thursday before we left, in the middle of all of the boxes and furniture waiting to be moved on Saturday and trying to pack for a looooong trip, I was angry at myself for still having so much to do.

But as usual, God wasn't angry at me like I was.  He knew that it was actually good.  It was good that I needed people.  IT WAS GOOD THAT I NEEDED THE BODY OF CHRIST.  He helped me realize that the fact that we really needed help meant that PEOPLE GOT TO HELP.  I might seem presumptuous here, but I hope and pray somehow it was actually a blessing to people that they got to be a part of sending us out into missions training because that was part of sending us out into the mission field.  And they got to be a part of that.  They got to bless us.  We were not just fine without them.  WE NEEDED THEM.

"People...  People who need people..."

So now here I am.  Far enough away from all of those people that I don't know what they're going through this week because I haven't connected with them since I left.  We've sent some prayer emails and a newsletter, but that's not like connecting in a personal way.  Not like a phone call.  Not like a long personal email.  And I know they want to know how we're doing, but I haven't known how to find the time to connect.    So, Jenni, to answer your question, it has definitely been quite hard to go from being a stay-at-home mom to a full-time trainee.  A couple of weeks ago, I would have said that was the hardest thing.  I'm still not quite used to getting up in the morning and having to GO somewhere instead of shooing everyone else (except Timo) out the door.  I miss having more wide-open time to spend with God.  Not that I didn't have stuff to do, because I was almost overwhelmed most of the time, but it was easier to find time to pray.  I could talk to someone on the cordless phone while I was doing laundry or the dishes.  I could connect with Annette at school and Paula when she picked up my kids.  I could call people during the day easily if I needed them to pray for me.  My mom could come by and help out for an hour, bringing with her whatever yummy food my dad had been cooking up that day.  My in-laws could stop by on their way home from the gym.

My stay-at-home-mom life was filled with people.

Edd, you asked about the retreat at Williams Lake.  Getting to spend a weekend several hours north of here at the church of our good friends Jeremy (he's the pastor there now) and Kara are was really special.  The retreat was powerful, but I was really wrestling by the end of it with how disconnected I felt.  God finally showed me that I was grieving.  Grieving the loss of my old church especially, because I was in a church setting.  It hurt a lot.  

I'm still grieving.

In some ways it's premature.  We're going to be back "home" for most of next year.  I know that.  But I also know that after that we'll be even further away.  So just like you start grieving the loss of someone who is dying long before they actually die, I'm grieving the temporary and the more long-term loss of relationships that we'll be facing in the sort of near future.  I was crying about it again this week...  feeling the pain of separation from people I love who love me and KNOW me.  And in the middle of it, God showed me something beautiful.

He reminded me of a lesson He's been teaching me this year about worship...  that worship in the Bible is so often connected to sacrifice.  Even in the New Testament (Romans 12:1) we're exhorted to offer our bodies as living sacrifices as a holy act of worship.  So what He showed me the other night was that when I'm feeling the sacrifice of leaving, I can offer it to Him as an act of worship.  I can worship Him with it.

And that can make even the pain beautiful.

To answer a couple of other questions my friends on Facebook asked, the kids are adjusting well.  Mik and Toby love their school and Timothy is happy going to school along with them.  We're learning so much every week and being challenged in so many ways.  God is doing transforming work in us and it's been harder than we expected in many ways, but more amazing than we expected as well.  And the lesson right now that I'm learning is that I need people.  Barbra would say that makes me one of the lucky ones.  I just know I need the Body of Christ.  And I always will.

And that is good.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Settling In... Kinda

Lowell's new post (WITH PICTURES!) on our other blog...

Making Up My Mind

God and I had an interesting conversation yesterday.  After a FULL week of trying to get settled into our new temporary home, into a new school for the kids, a new job, a new daycare, new roles at home, new weather, a new church, a new city, new country, new friends, a new language (eh?), I was still feeling wiped out.  OK.  So maybe the language isn't completely new, but lots of other stuff has changed dramatically for our family in the last weeks and the transition into life here hasn't gone as smoothly as I dreamed it would.  The kids have done super.  We can tell that Timothy is a bit irritated with all the changes and is testing all the boundaries to see if they're still there, but even he has done remarkably well with his new "school".  His teacher is super sweet and (praise God!) his little daycare class is right across the hall from Toby's class!!! How cool is that?  : )  Mikaela and Toby are enjoying their new school and having tons of fun with the two kids from Paraguay whose parents are in training with us.  Our house is beautiful, our program is going to be rigorous but is off to a great start and the people we're in training with are quickly becoming good friends.

So what was the problem?  Well, that would be me.  I was exhausted when we got here - physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually...  and I haven't felt so unsettled and discombobulated in -- well, ever!  And all week I've been struggling to stay positive and not get discouraged.  I knew I needed to give myself time, but instead of it getting better as the week went on, it was getting worse.  A few things came up this week that left me thinking "I didn't sign up for this!"  And the struggle I was having adjusting left me afraid of how I will do when the adjustment is even more dramatic.  I just plain got scared - but mostly felt sort of depressed.

In His never ending grace, God called me on it yesterday.  I spent some much needed time in His Word and ended up reading Lamentations 3-5 and Revelation 15.  Lamentations is pretty full of... lamenting while Rev. 15 has an amazing section of worship sung by victorious saints with harps.  While I noticed a major contrast between the two passages, I didn't feel very moved while I was reading (though I do want one of those harps someday!), but afterward felt God pretty clearly telling me I needed to make up my mind.

"Do you want to be here or not?"

(Long pause.......)

I knew my answer was going to be "Yes" but I wasn't ready until a few hours later to admit it.  I knew I had to really think through it and choose what I wanted because I had the distinct feeling that if I wanted to go home, He would let me.  And I didn't want to decide what I wanted based on how it would impact all of you or our church back home or our youth group...  this time it was just about deciding for myself what I wanted.

"And if you do want to be here, do you want to spend the next 3 1/2 months lamenting or worshiping???"

Well, that was an easier question to answer.  But later as I prayed with a friend from home (on the phone) I realized one of the reasons I was struggling with the first question was my fear about what "being here" means.    I'm not just saying "yes" to being here.  I'm saying "yes" to going somewhere further away and far more foreign than this little city.  And I needed to make up my mind again that I still want THAT.

So, I did.  : )  And somewhere in between God asking the question and my finally answering it a few hours later, the fog lifted and the sun came out in my heart and my head.  I'm done with the lamenting and am feeling at peace and more at home than ever... at least for now.  I'm also so grateful for the lesson God taught me because I KNOW that I'm going to have to keep making up my mind every time I discover new challenges.  Every time I think "I didn't sign up for this!" God will likely say again...  "No, you didn't.  So what do you want now?  Make up your mind."

And sometimes, knowing what I want will make all the difference.
"And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name.  They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb:  'Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.  Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.  Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?  For you alone are holy.  ALL NATIONS will come and worship before you...'"  -Revelation 15:2-4

Saturday, September 04, 2010

We made it! (and I miss you...)

Hi everyone!  I'm sitting here with mixed feelings...  excitement, sadness, exhaustion, disorientation, hope, expectation, gratefulness...  We made it out of Fresno and it was nothing short of an act of God and the Body of Christ at work through our family and friends that ushered us out with grace and peace and joy.

But...  that's part of the problem!  During our last couple of weeks in town, (and here's where my throat starts to tighten and I'll have to start blinking hard) so, SO many surrounded us and helped us.  When we got down to our last hours at our house, we were able to finish everything just on time because of every single person that helped.  I wonder how many I can remember that helped in some way or another...  There was Paula, Renae, Chris, Brandon, Gerald, Matt, Bruce, Ted, Robert, Rick, Bryan, Monica, Carol, Sadie, Jamie, Melissa, Coleen, Hillary, Brad, Angel, Darrell, Sue, Helen, Harold, Lorraine, Tom, Carmen, Carol, Todd, Sandra, Kirk, Karen, Edd, Brandon, Bill, Sharon, Steve, Steve, Denise, Jenni, Ryan, Dave and Dave...  and I KNOW I'm forgetting some more. (And that doesn't even start to count the people that have spoken words of encouragement to us or have been so faithfully praying for us!!!)  But do you see my point?  Every one of you wrapped your hearts around us in so many ways, that I got used to you being around and now I'm really starting to miss you!

I know I'll be fine and the kids will be fine.  Tomorrow we will see some people we know who have traveled even further to come here for training and on Tuesday we will see many more that we already know and love.  I can hardly wait.  Because I need the Body of Christ.  I love the Body of Christ.  I will miss my home church  while we are gone, but I can't wait to worship with other Believers tomorrow.  I know, I know...  what am I going to do when we're on another continent???  Well, I know there will probably already at least be some other Believers there as well.  But anyway, God knows - and for now, I'm looking forward to connecting with His Body here...  even though I'm missing you.  : )


Below is the official thank you...  (Thank you!)

Dear Family & Friends,

As I write this we are driving through Oregon on our way to Abbotsford. We are amazed, humbled and so grateful for the love and support you all have shown us in the last weeks.  The burden of getting everything done so we could leave Fresno was too big for us to bear alone and we knew it.  We asked God to help us and He told us nothing was impossible with Him.  He literally sent His Body through every one of you that scrubbed our floors, worked in our yard, moved our things,  repaired, painted, and fixed our house, babysat our kids and prayed for us (just to name a few of the many ways you helped.)  Your words of encouragement and prayers were life to us when we were weary and worn out.  We know so clearly that we are not going out as missionaries on our own.  We have been sent into this season of training with your support and love and we are so excited to share this journey and call with you.  Please continue to pray for us as we have so much to learn.  But we know God is with us and for us so we look forward to learning from Him and others who have gone before us.  He has promised to provide everything we need and we expect Him to continue to do that in every way.  And did you hear?  Last Sunday in church we shared that we were still waiting for a last minute miracle – a renter for our condo.  Through a series of divinely orchestrated events, we signed a lease with someone about 4 hours before we left Fresno on Wednesday.  J  How’s that for God’s perfect timing???

We love you all so much.

Eternally Grateful,

Lowell, Melissa, Mikaela, Toby and Timothy

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Almost on our way!

We made it out of our house last night...  need to finish reshuffling our bags and pay a few bills (why do I always leave that to the end???) and we'll be on the road in a few hours.  So many people helped us, it was overwhelming.  I have never felt so loved in all my life.  I'll write more when I have time...  hopefully soon. Pray for safety when we travel...

God is so good.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What He Said...

Lowell just posted an update on our other blog...

"So, we are down to the wire. A week from today we should be in the van, hopefully with a trailer packed with those Winter clothes, probably more toys than we should be taking, all my misc. electronic gadgets that I am going to have to learn how to let go of over time, our two guitars (yes, I have a bass and I WILL learn how to play it!), a significant number of blankets and coats (did I mention we are going to a place where it is cold?), and several books we have both planned to read for some time and will likely bring back to Fresno in December having not read them."

To read the rest, and see a really cute picture of our kids with their cousins on the Ens side, CLICK HERE.

Thanks for your prayers!  If I don't post again in the next week, it's because I'm trying to move out of the country.  I'm sure you'll understand.  : )

Friday, August 13, 2010


Hi friends...  The organization we will be training and serving with is wise enough to know that in order to be successful in this endeavor, we need a lot of prayer support behind us.  They have asked us to find 40 people who are willing to pray for us every day while we are in training. (Our training starts Sept. 7 and ends Dec. 17, though you don't have to wait until then to start praying for us and you don't have to stop in December!)  If you would like to be one of those people, you can leave us a comment or try to print/download the form below and email it back to us.  : )  One way or another, we'll get you signed up and we'll be honored and blessed to have you praying for us!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

For the JOY...

As our family prepares to embark on this super-exciting (and super-challenging!) journey, I'm so SO grateful for the lessons God has been teaching me and for how He's showing me in such a tangible way that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH HIM.  It doesn't say that nothing is impossible if He does it for me.  It doesn't say nothing is impossible if I talk to Him without looking at Him like He's in the room over there somewhere busy doing something else while I'm busy over here.  It says WITH HIM.  With His strength working in me.  With His peace guarding my heart.  With His hand covering me.  With my eyes fixed on Him instead of on the waves.  

I am so grateful for how God has been drawing me closer to Him through this.  I'm thankful for His patience with me.  For His reassurance over and over again that He is going to supply EVERYTHING WE NEED and that much of that will come through an intimate relationship with Him.  He keeps encouraging me when I get discouraged.  In fact, that seems to be a big stronghold He is working on dislodging from my heart...  my tendency to get discouraged when things get tough.  He wants to teach me to PERSEVERE.  And nothing will teach perseverance like...... having to persevere!  : )

So, here I am.  Persevering, but finding (as I search for it) JOY in the middle of it.  I'm so thankful (again) that God doesn't just want my body to keep going without my heart.  He doesn't just want me to move out of this house, exhausted, frustrated and worn out.  He wants me to find JOY in it!

"2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  (James 1:2-4)

"6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."  (1 Peter 1:6-9)

Do you see that???  Wow.  Greatly rejoice...  Pure, inexpressible and glorious joy.  Reminds me of how Jesus persevered through being crucified...  FOR THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM.

"1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  (Hebrews 12:1-3)

If you would like to join (officially) in praying for us as we enter into our training time, we would be so honored...  We actually have to have at least 40 people signed, sealed and committed to praying for us daily by the time we get to Canada.  If God puts it on your heart to be one of those people, please let me know either in the comments or by email and I'll send you the form.

Keep fixing your eyes on Him...  and pray that we do the same.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Grace and Peace...

That's what I need.  And lots of it.  Every. Single. Day.  And that's what God promises to supply me.  When I remember to rest in Him and when I forget, His grace is unfailingly strong.  Strong enough to hold me and my family together even when He's turning our lives inside out and upside down, as a matter of fact!  In case you haven't heard already through some grapevine or other, our family is embarking on an adventure that to some might seem ordinary, but to me (and I think most people) is anything but normal.

Last Spring we applied and have been accepted to go into training as long-term missionaries with our church family's (yes, I mean denomination if you know what that means) missions organization.  There is obviously a story to be told with this great big move we're making and you can read more about our journey over at our family's shiny-new blog: (I'll probably mention it here whenever I post something new over there.)  That's where I'll update people about what's going on with our family, but this blog will still be the place for my random thoughts ranging from muddy water to laundry to moving (aaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!)...

Oh.  Sorry.  Did you hear that?  I was just screaming a little inside.  : )  Leave it to God to invite us to go on this amazing adventure with Him--but make me clean out my house first.  : )  Well, I can't complain, really, because I'm so, so, so, SO incredibly excited and grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime He's giving us AND He's promised to help me every step of the way.  Even with the yard sale on Saturday.  Even with the packing and the tiring days and the happy days, too.  But to be honest with you, I just sort of wish I could skip this part.  But God knows I need it for some reason. Maybe to prove to me that nothing is impossible with Him.... even ME and my family moving out of this house in time.

I wrote a little song a few weeks ago on one of my challenging days (like today) remembering and proclaiming that it's not by my might or by my power, strength or wisdom but by His Spirit and His grace that I stand...  Crying out Lord, I BELIEVE!  HELP MY UNBELIEF!  In my weakness, show me Your power!  He's brought me once again to a place where I have to rely on His strength because there's just no other way.  Not even my super-husband can rescue me on his own.  But God can.  And He will.  It's going to take every ounce of my strength to resist the enemy's discouragement and to hold unswervingly to the truth, but God will give me all the strength I need.  (Hmmm...  He gives me the strength, but I have to use it.  Must remember that!)  And he's walking with me.  And singing to me.  And reminding me to be still and know He is God.  Nothing is impossible with Him and He loves me very much.

And that's enough.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Dirt & Water (More than Mud)

Play a little word association game with me…  What are the first things that come to your mind when you read the word “WATER”? (Waiting… waiting…)  Since I can’t hear you, I’ll tell you what I think of… Oceans.  Lakes.  Rivers.  Thirst.  Cleansing.  Cooking.  Drinking.  Refreshing.  LIFE…

OK.  Next word:  “DIRT”  Hmmm…  Dirty.  Cleaning.  Kids.  Stains.  Laundry.  Dusting.  Washing.  Sweeping.  Getting tracked in all over my house.  (Can you tell I’m a mom?) DESERT.  (Death.)

A couple of months ago, I woke in the middle of the night pondering the significance of water and dirt.  At first I was thinking about water being representative of the Spirit of God and true spiritual life and I thought dirt was connected with sin.  I still think water can represent God’s life and power—in both positive and negative ways.  It’s possible to die in water or die for lack of it, just like we can die if we refuse to accept Jesus’ gift of life.  It’s nothing new, really, to think of water as a spiritual symbol.  I think probably every religion in the world recognizes its significance.  Even scientists who don’t believe in “religion” or God at all practically worship water with all of their searching for it on other planets as proof that there might have been life there once.  And the Bible is full of water…  floods, droughts, seas being parted, water flowing out of rocks, Jesus the living water, baptism, being washed by the Word…  just to name a few.

But I’ve decided that dirt (for me) isn’t really about sin.  It’s just humanity.   Again, that’s not a new concept, I know.  After all…  God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground and God remembers we are “but dust.”   And dirt is just part of life.  When you go camping, you have to surrender to it or be frustrated the whole time.  When you have kids or live on a farm, you have to surrender to its existence and learn to live with it to a certain extent as well.  (We surrender to its existence...  not its lordship!)   AND dirt was part of life BEFORE the tree/serpent/fruit incident in the Garden of Eden, so that means (ahem…) it is (or was at that point) good.  I, for one, have had to accept that there will always be more of it – no matter how many times I sweep.  Just like there will always be more of my humanity for God to deal with in my heart as long as I’m on this big spinning ball of dirt.

(I know the earth is not really just a big spinning ball of dirt.  But I liked the way it sounded.  Forgive me.)

But do you know what gets me excited?  I get excited about what happens when you put dirt and water together.  J

You get a planet like earth – with magnificent snow-capped mountains, river-worn canyons, dry ground filled up and turned into lakes, places where oceans meet land.
You get Jesus using mud made out of dirt and spit to heal a blind man.
You get something plants can grow in that farmers can feed and clothe you with.
You get something irrestable to little boys and little girls.
You get to experience going from dirty to clean.
You get to go from hard and barren ground to soft, workable, life-giving ground.
You get the Word made flesh and the Spirit of the Living God dwelling in us.


(I even found an article online that talked about how soil in nature holds on super tightly to the first rain water of the season so that rain that comes later doesn’t mix with the first water b/c the soil won’t let go of it.  I’m not going to try to overanalyze the spiritual lesson in that…  but I think it’s fascinating.  Dirt was made to hold water.  We were made to hold God.)

You also get mudslides and floods and quicksand and places for weeds to grow.  Reminders that God’s ways are not our ways and that we can’t leave our hearts unattended or sin will take root quickly and grow like crazy.  (“Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life!”  See?)  There are also so many contaminants that can poison water.  People die ALL OVER THE WORLD EVERY SINGLE DAY for lack of clean water.  So many, also, die spiritually because they are drinking the poisoned water their false gods and idols offer them every day.

And isn’t it interesting that we bury stuff in the dirt?  Most often, when people die they are buried.  Sometimes when people commit crimes, they try to bury the evidence.  Sometimes people even bury treasure so others don’t steal or find it.  (Remember the parable of the talents?)  Yet, when dirt is properly tended and watered and fertilized, a simple seed can grow and bear fruit a thousand times over. 


You know what else?  When I don’t drink enough water, I get headaches.  I’ve known that for a few years now.  And yet, over and over again, I will let myself get dehydrated to the point of a headache when the solution is as simple as drinking more water.  Sadly, I too often do the same thing spiritually.  I’ll go for a while doing well--staying hydrated spiritually by spending time with the Lord, drinking His Word and His presence and love.  But eventually, I’ll slack off a bit (even if it’s just for a few days) and get a spiritual headache.  Or heartache.  And I’m discovering that during seasons like the one I’m in right now, I need to drink more than ever from Him because the temperature around me is hotter than ever and I really do need more time with Him than ever before.  (I’ll explain more next week…)

Lord, wash me and I will be clean.  Keep my soft heart so good things can grow in it and keep my spirit free from weeds so that sin doesn’t choke out the fruit.  You are the potter and I’m the clay.  Don’t let me bury the treasure You’ve given me.  I want You to keep unearthing everything that needs to be dug up, rooted out and removed from my heart so that it can be fertile soil for your Word to grow in.  I want to bear fruit for You.  Fruit that will last!  My soul really does thirst for You in this dry and weary land…  Keep me coming to You to drink of Your unfailing love.  What an amazing thing that You choose to work through us…  through me…  this fragile jar of clay.  Oh, how I love You.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Change is in the air. (Or the water.) (Or something.)

The schedule is changing...  the weather is changing...  the kids are changing...  I'm changing...  and my blog layout is changing!  : )  Blogger FINALLY added some new layout features (that I don't need a third party to host) and I was so happy to discover one that fit my blog so well!  : )  If you're reading this in a reader, well, then you're missing out on all of the fun.  : )  Unless you click on over to my actual blog.

Anyway.  I'm in the middle of the school to summer transition and realized today that I need to be determined about finding quiet time with God or I'm going to be in trouble.  I need Him more than ever (is there ever a time I need Him less?  Probably not!)  Either way, I need Him.  I need to be in His presence and in His Word and in His arms - and not just during moments in between loads of laundry and snacks and potty training attempts.

So, the verse I'm focusing on for the rest of June is Isaiah 30:15...  Hmmm...  Well, I thought it was going to be! But I just looked up the whole chapter and discovered there is more there I need to pay attention to!  I had no idea these verses were all in the same chapter...
Isaiah 30:15 "This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it."
30:18 "Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion.  For the LORD is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for Him!"
30:21 "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"
I've been asking God for strength and courage lately, and He was reminding me today of verse 15 there.  If I take time to rest, it is evidence that I am trusting Him.  When I think I don't have time to stop and rest because there is to much to do or to figure out or whatever, that, on the other hand, is evidence I am NOT trusting Him.  I can't get through this life or even this summer without His help and without His strength.  I'm glad I don't have to try!

Friday, June 04, 2010


Hey there friends... especially my GIRL friends!  Just wanted to share this website with you.  It's a blog kept by a group of women who are all incredibly gifted writers, and as you'd expect (or at least hope for!) based on the url, every time I go there I leave encouraged.  If you could use some encouragement (and who can't?) check it out!
Here's a sneak peek at something posted today...


I needed to hear from Him.

You know me by now and you know that I would probably rather make a joke or listen to your story than admit that I am living a story that confuses me.
I reached a point this week where, even though I wasn’t pursuing it wholeheartedly, I knew what I needed most was a word from God. I wanted to hear Him and at the same time, I didn’t.
I feel confused enough today, I thought, I don’t need to add attempting to hear God in these complicated situations. [By the way, this is messed-up thinking. Don’t agree with me. I came around. Just keep reading.]

Intrigued???  click on the title (Able) to read the rest...
And really...  who can resist a url like this...  ?

: )  Be encouraged today!!!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Ready for Battle!

Alright.  I admit it.  I have gotten a bit lazy with my Scripture memorization.  I’ve still been reading a lot and adding lots of verses to my spiral, but I just haven’t made up my mind to memorize one or more of them for a while.  Well, rather than give up because I’m “behind schedule” or try to make up for lost time by memorizing extra for the months I’ve missed, I decided to throw perfectionism to the wind and just pick one to do now!  J  (Shocking, huh?)  And not a super long one, either!  Here it is:

I don’t have a horse to ride into battle, but I do have a mind that I’m supposed to be preparing for action and a sword of the Spirit I need to keep sharp.  So while I trust (PRAISE GOD!!!) that victory rests with the Lord, I’m gonna do my part to cooperate with Him!

So here’s my encouragement to you…  If you’ve slowed down or quit or even never started memorizing Scripture, don’t give up and don’t be afraid to just start today!  If you want to share what you’re working on right now, leave a comment so we can cheer each other on. YAY!  J

Grace, Peace and Lots of Love,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Seek and Find (Part 2)

In the middle of the night, a few hours after I posted that last post, I woke up with this passage in my head.  
Acts 17:24-28
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this SO THAT MEN WOULD SEEK HIM and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'"
I'm not going to try to explain how it works or the theology behind it...  I'm just gonna praise God that he was determined the details of my life...  so that I will SEEK HIM.  : )  And I'm going to thank Him that IN HIM I live and move and have my being.  He gives me life and breath and everything else.  What more could I need?????  Earlier today I was thinking about how I didn't know what to do about something and God reminded me of what I wrote the other night.  So I realized that if I didn't know what to do about "this" yet, I must not need to know today.  So I'll work on what I DO know and leave what I don't for when God shows me what to do about it.  Walking in the light I have for today and leaving tomorrow for tomorrow...  Hmmm.  Seems like I've heard that somewhere before, too.  : )

Bless you today, friends!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Seek and Find

Every once in a while (like this week) I hear people talk about waiting for direction from God, or feeling anxious about decisions they have to make.  Jus as often, I am the person trying to be patient for the direction and the wisdom.  I thought surely I had written about this before, but can’t find it anywhere on my blog, so thought I’d write about it now to remind myself and pass it on.

These are 4 lessons God taught me many years ago about seeking His will.  It’s all founded, however, on  WANTING to know and do God’s will.  If you don’t have that issue settled, you have to start there first.  But once you do, I pray these thoughts will encourage you like they have helped me so much through the years.  God has never failed to be faithful.  Here are the lessons He has taught me.

1.  DON’T TRUST IN MY ABILITY TO LISTEN; TRUST IN GOD’S ABILITY TO SPEAK.  He can speak through a donkey and through dreams and He can write on walls.  When I was trying to figure out whether or not I was supposed to marry this certain guy my Sr. year in college, I agonized about whether or not I was going to hear from God.  What if He tried to tell me and I just didn’t hear?  In response to that He told me – over and over – not to trust in my ability to listen, but in His ability to speak.  Wow.  What a relief!  John 10:27  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

2.  TRUST THAT BY THE TIME I NEED TO KNOW WHAT TO DO, I WILL KNOW.  Sometimes I look ahead at a fork in the road (that’s coming and I don’t know which way I’m going to go!!!) and I fret and fret about which way to go, begging for a SIGN, only to get there and discover that the sign is laying flat on the road and just couldn't be seen from far away – but it’s there nonetheless.  No matter what, by the time I need to know, I will.   Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it.”

3.  THE SHEEP WILL NEVER CARE MORE ABOUT GETTING TO THE RIGHT PLACE THAN THE SHEPHERD CARES ABOUT GETTING THEM THERE.  If I have such an intense desire to know what God wants, how could I ever think that if it actually matters, He might not lead me?  He’s the Shepherd.  I’m a sheep (and sheep are sort of dumb!) and He knows that.  Just like I would never ever leave my kids to figure out how to get to school or to Thailand by themselves, God will never leave me to figure it out for myself.  He is always with me.  As a mom, this verse is especially meaningful to me:  Isaiah 40:11  “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

And lastly, perhaps the most important lesson:

4.  Don’t seek God’s will.  SEEK HIM.  Over and over in the Word God tells us to seek Him.  I have discovered that when I take my focus off of the decision or questions or whatever and just choose to intentionally SEEK GOD it’s like taking my eyes off of the map, putting my hand in His and just taking a walk together.  He loves me.  He teaches me.  He heals me.  He prepares me.  He equips me.  He helps me.  And all of a sudden, I discover that we’ve ended up exactly where He wanted me to end up – and I didn’t even realize it.    You likely know 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 paths straight.”

“In all your ways, ACKNOWLEDGE HIM…”  That means basically to KNOW Him.  And the more we know Him, the more we will TRUST HIM.  Trust Him.  Trust Him, trust Him, trust Him!  Then He will make our paths straight.

Oh, how I love Him!!!!!  I hope you do too...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!!!!!

Is it wrong that this little video makes me so happy???  

I told my (wonderful, supportive) husband one day that if he comes home and the house looks the same way as it did in the morning when he left, that means I did something!  It takes work just to maintain the status quo...  and even more to improve on it.  Nobody understands that like a mom...  especially one who's at home with kids who are making messes all day long!  I'm not complaining...  I'm just sayin'...  

Actually, I've been realizing lately that I'm on the tail end (well, except for during summer vacations!) of having at least one kid home all day long and it's quite strange.  I've been a mom for almost 9 and a half years now!  Amazing.  I love my kids, but I'm actually enjoying them growing up and unlike some women I know, I don't really miss the baby stage.  Maybe it was the sleep deprivation (for 9 years!) but especially those early years (okay...  the first 6) of motherhood were HARD for me.  I don't miss it...  I praise God we all made it!!!  : )  God has done some major work through it though and today I am healthier, stronger, more whole, more at peace, more content and more healed because of it.  I know there will be more challenges - probably next week! - but I'm so grateful for what God's done in me during these years since I became a mom...  And I'm looking forward for whatever is to come.

If you happen to be a mom with young kids and you could use some encouragement, PLEASE know that you are NOT the only one who doesn't have it all figured out and who is exhausted and who wonders why she can't just relax and enjoy her kids more.  But they really do grow up and eventually you just might have a little boy who tells you as you're tucking him in that he can't wait to give God a hug when he gets to heaven, or a daughter who WANTS to read the Bible with you and wants to know what it all means.  I can't promise that they'll ever keep their rooms clean or come the first time you call them, but they really will get older and eventually sleep through the night and be able to talk and tell you what they want instead of just crying or pointing and saying "that!" when you have no idea what "that!" is.  They'll grow up, and BY GOD'S GRACE you will too.  With His strength, you'll make it.  

At least, I did!

Blessings to you all...  young moms, old moms and dads, brothers, sisters and daughters, too.  God loves you all!  A whole lot.