I Long For That Day

Our team has been so blessed with the last 6 months of growth we have experienced with Shiloh Road. It has been about preparation, and God has definitely been doing his part. I mentioned back in October about Bill Richardson coming in to speak. His message was so good for all of the church to hear regarding a missional church.

This weekend, we have been blessed by Dr. Evertt Huffard. He came to spend time with the team, staff, elders, and taught a 3 hour lecture this morning on:
1. mission as the big picture
2. partnership in missions
3. what does a sending church look like (specific to the Peru work)

I wrote down several things that he said that struck me. He talked a lot about vision in the first hour and I just wanted to compose some thoughts regarding those little “nuggets of wisdom” he left with me. Maybe they can spark something in you.

“One will never evangelize those that he fears or hates.”

“How committed a church is to missions is a sign of maturity for that church.”

“You’re a church because you have a mission, not because you have a building.”

“After a period of time it is easy for a church to become budget-driven instead of vision-driven.”

He used a wonderful analogy for this thought. I love analogies. He has 2 older daughters that went through college around the same time. He asked, “What if I told my daughters that our mortgage wasn’t paid yet and wouldn’t be for 10 years. How would they have felt if I asked them to wait 10 years before we helped them with college? We didn’t. They went and we made our budget work. It took planning and it took sacrifice, but we did it.” I thought he explained it well.

There are some other nuggets that I may save for later posts. I want to leave you with a verse that he read to us after talking about the vision.

Colossians 1:9-12

9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[a] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

He read this as a prayer of a sending church to missionaries. It really meant alot to me to read this in that light. Christians are strengthened by God’s power in order to experience the endurance and patience involved with spreading the mission.

We must be vision-driven. Again, he used a great analogy for me to really grasp this idea. A single mother with five children working a minimum wage job. It would seem that it would be very hard for this woman to wake up every morning. But she does, every day. Her patience and endurance all pays off when she gets to witness her children graduating from college–something she never did. She had the vision. It seemed crazy and impossible all the years she endured until then. But it happened.

How glorious it will be to see the church in Arequipa celebrating and serving because of God’s power working in us. I can’t wait for that day. I long for that day.

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I Long For That Day

Moment by Moment

Ana has been really sick for the first time this week. I have endured two sleepless nights and spent all day with her (naps included) except for about 2 hours. Wear me out… I hurt so much when I see her like this. I have heard so many parents reflect on this idea, and a parent really doesn’t learn it until it happens to them.

I realize so many have stories of their child being diagnosed with a disease very early or not even getting to bring a new baby home. I am so thankful that this is not my story, and I take Ana’s health and all of the things that make her healthy for granted. I was thinking today that (it has only been 2 days of her being like this) I would give anything to hear her sweet little coos and sounds of talking when she awakes from her nap. She smiled maybe three times today. I miss her smile.

I really enjoy holding her and being her comfort. It does cause me to reflect on my relationship to God and allowing him to hold me. He is my ever-present comfort. Here are the words to a song that I love. Read the words that Dennis Jernigan wrote about our moment by moment with God:

If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile
Words & Music by Dennis Jernigan

When I cannot feel
When my wounds wont heal
Lord I humbly kneel, hidden in You
Lord, You are my life
So I dont mind to die
Just as long as Im hidden in You

If I could just sit with You awhile
If You could just hold me
Nothing could touch me
Though Im wounded, though I die
If I could just sit with You awhile
I need you to hold me
Moment by moment
Till forever passes by

When I know Ive sinned
When I should have been
Crying out, My God! and hidden in You
Lord, I need You now
More than I know how
So I humbly bow, hidden in You

1992 Shepherds Heart Music, Inc.

Moment by Moment

My All

Are you ever prompted to give God praise in a way that you usually don’t? I am no poet, but in my journaling tonight, in the quiet of this house, I praised God for being my all. I want to share these simple words with you.

My mother, my father, my conception, my birth,
My first step, my first word, my talents, my gifts,
My acknowledgments, my sins, my frustrations, my dreams,
My friends, my choices, my education, my path,
My first kiss, my husband, my traveling, my opportunities,
My mountaintops, my valleys, my blessings, my curses,
My first job, my first house, my retirement, my transitions,
My ministry, my calling, my decision-making, my journey,
My every struggle, my every thought, my heart, my inmost being,
You knew all of these before I was knit in the womb.
My God, my Savior, my Father, my ALL.

My All

If You Say Go…

If you say go, we will go.
If you say wait, we will wait.
If you say step out on the water, and they say it can’t be done we’ll fix our eyes on you and we will come.
Your ways are higher than our ways, and the plans that you have made are good and true.
If you call us to the fire, you will not withdraw your hand.  We’ll gaze into the flames and look for you.

Many of you sing this song in different church settings.  In the last year, this song has become one of my personal favorites.  Not because I like the harmony or the rhythm, I like it because it speaks to me and the things that my family is currently going through.

If you say go…
I never dreamed I would do foreign missions long-term, but our family is leaving for Peru in one year for the long haul (at least 10 years).  This has been a hard decision for me to make, but after a trip to the city of Arequipa last summer with my team and family, I felt that God definitely told me to go.  I do not doubt his leading us there.

If you say wait…
Our team has had a lot of downs to cope with in the last year.  One of those downs include a group of people telling us that they didn’t feel that we were ready to leave for the field.  That was very hard to swallow considering that we have spent the last three years preparing ourselves (finishing school, working with a hispanic church, working with teammates, etc.).  We prayed many prayers in this situation, spoke with mentors, and came to the conclusion that this group was not the voice of God.  We should go, but that little twinge of doubt always lingers.  How do we know when God is truly saying to wait?  This has become a big struggle to me.

If you say, “Step out on the water…
I read a book in college that really contributed to a time of spiritual formation in my life called The Life You’ve Always Wanted, by John Ortberg.  I decided to read a second book of his titled If you Want to Walk On Water You’ve Got To Step Out of the Boat.  Overall, the book was okay, but I realized in reading his words that my boat is the security I have in my family.  Well, on this journey with Greg to Peru, I want to walk on water.  This requires a great deal of faith.  My family means the world to me and they are the biggest sacrifice I am making to go.  So in doubting whether or not God says wait, I ask him, “But I said I’ll give it up to walk on water.  Am I still missing something?”

Your ways…
God has already taught me that his ways are higher than my own.  If you ever want to hear my testimony, I can tell you all about how I learned this lesson once already.  It’s funny how we have to learn the same lesson again and again.  Greg has been the original former of these plans to go to Peru for many years now.  Where we are now, he could never of dreamed would be the scenario.  But it is what it is, and I firmly believe that God has walked with us the entire journey.  I told Greg that I am so tired of disappointments.  It seems like the last year has been full of them.  But I need to look at these outcomes differently.  I am disappointed because of how MY WAY has not worked out.  But it’s not about my way is it.  His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness…

If you call us to the fire…
I determined last night that the fire our family is going though at this time has been very smoky.  It is hard to see through the smoke.  But when the burning is complete and the smoke is cleared out, I can see a finished product.  We are not totally to that point, but I feel like a lot of the smoke has cleared out.  I have prayed a prayer for transformation for our family in this coming year.  I want to be purified and transformed so that I can seek out God’s will without blemish.  The fire is not an easy place to be, but God calls us to go there with him.

I have no pictures of Ana.  This definitely ranks in my serious list of posts.  I wanted to think out loud and share with you some thoughts going through my mind.  I am very prayerful about so many things right now, and I have come to God crying out on numerous occasions here recently.  I want the Holy Spirit to my my guide.  If any of you have words of wisdom you can impart, bring it on.  Ask me in a year how the fire worked out.  We move to Tyler, TX to work with the church in less than a week.  Big changes are happening for us.

Please pray for the people of Peru.  The city hit the hardest, Ica, sits about halfway between Lima and Arequipa.  I have not heard any reports about the city of Arequipa, but please keep the country heavy upon our hearts in your prayers.

If You Say Go…

MMS Blessings

I made it to spring break! I wanted to blog about my workplace because it truly has been a blessing to me. I love teaching, and I am one of those weird ones that love middle school children. 7th graders think that they are very grown up, but they still have a sweet innocence to them (even the ones that have seen a lot for their age). As I went through my (what I hope is) my final day of school today, I looked at all those faces, that can get on my last nerve:), and realized that I really am going to miss them. My students always surprise me with their kind words and sweet gifts. One of my students made me a diaper cake. It is so crafty. I will post a picture of it for you to see. Others gave me things from photo albums to chocolate covered strawberries. My sweet, sweet students.

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I also want to say that I enjoy my coworkers immensely. I serve with 5 other teachers that share the same group of 7th grade students. We are known as the Bronco Team. I have loved teaching with my teammates, because we really do function as a team. I will miss our conversations and strategy meetings for how to reach certain children. I have certainly grown in my professionalism while working in Marion. I have been given multiple opportunities to participate in conferences and learn how to better prepare myself as a teacher. My principal placed me in the position of Science curriculum coordinator which is really neat since the masters I earned is in Curriculum and Education. My principal also placed me in the position of team leader which gave me many opportunities and situations to act as a leader among my team for students and parents. I have grown in so many ways these past three years because of these opportunities.

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I won’t go on and on, but I wanted to share that I was floored by the love and support I received from my MMS baby shower (pictures came from that). Most every worker in my building came to the shower or sent a gift. Most of them know that I will not be returning next year so I received such kind notes in regards to all of that. It really boosted my spirits. I thank God for the love and encouragement I receive from my MMS family. He placed me in an AR school district where I have been molded and changed to be better all around. I thank him for the good and bad times I experienced there because they were all part of the process. I will miss my job at MMS, but I know God used that place to prepare me for something else in the future. Praise be to his name, whatever that something is…

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MMS Blessings

This little light of mine…

Here is post #3: This semester has really been a blessing so far.  I am soooo glad to be finished with my graduate classes.  My work is still keeping me busy, but it is so nice to have the burden of homework for classes over with.  My pregnancy has gone very well up to this point, and Ana has really “kicked” her movements up a notch this week.  I think it is because she is so much bigger now.  I really cannot imagine my stomach stretching any more than it has, but I know it will have to.  God is such an incredible designer.

Greg and I have had a very easy life so far.  We could complain about always being busy (the American trap), and we have been.  I have worked full-time while finishing my masters.  Greg is in a very time consuming program full-time and still manages to fulfill his duties with La Iglesia de Cristo (I think he is Super Man sometimesJ).  But aside from busyness, we have lived very comfortably, we know that the meals for the next month are taken care of, we have lived close enough to family and friends to drive to see them, and we have friends and mentors that support us here in Memphis.

I mentioned that I am enjoying this semester.  I almost look at the next few months (less than that actually) as the ending to this chapter of our life.  It is exciting and scary all at the same time.  And I am to the point now that I know that God expects me to trust in Him.  I guess I can say that I have always had trust in Him, but my faith will be tested this year.

First, we are having a baby girl close to March 26.  I cannot tell you the indescribable feelings I have toward this little one that I can only feel within my womb.  To conceptually understand that the love that Greg and I share created such a being is far beyond my comprehension.  I have heard that children will rock our world, and that makes a lot of sense.  So there is excitement and also the apprehension of “the unknown” that frightens me just a little bit in having the responsibility to raise a child.

Second, because of this baby and our plans to do mission work, I will not be teaching next school year.  In a way, I am retiring.  I love teaching.  Some would say to love your job is to know that God gave you the gift set to do the job.  I am confident in this.  I see my job in the public school as a ministry, and I enjoy the challenge of improving “my game” each year.  I have really felt sad about leaving this job behind.  In a way, it seems that that the time I have invested in this position is all for nothing.  I know this is not totally true, but it makes me sad.  As much as I have always desired to be a mother, I never imagined that the “career woman dreams” would be so tempting in my mind.  In a sense, school teaching is a big part of my identity right now, and it will be interesting to see how I struggle and deal with letting that chapter of my early life go.  Will I ever teach again?  Of course I will, but for this time (the beginning years of Ana’s life and any siblings that follow) my role is now mother—which is an adjustment.

Third, we are on the “tons of fun” train to fundraising.  I hate that word.  I do not enjoy asking people for money.  I understand what it is about, but it is not a very fun process.  I have already been taught a lot.  I won’t ramble too much, but I do want to share one major idea.  Our team is traveling to a church this coming weekend that could possibly support the entire team—ideal.  It is very easy to look at this interview as a time that we must impress the judges.  I reflected to Greg the other night that I have decided not to have this mentality.  Yes, in a way we must be impressive, but it is wrong to give this impression from where we are as mere humans.  They should be impressed with what God is capable of doing through us.  I am totally placing this in my creator’s hands.  He is the reason we are going in the first place.  If it is His will and I am trying my best to follow that will, things will happen.  If not, I have prayed that he clearly steers me in a different direction.  I recently heard in a class that I am auditing at the grad school that God said he would be a lamp unto our feet.  Not a spotlight showing the miles ahead, a lamp.  We can really only make out the few steps ahead of ourselves.  I really think that if God were to spotlight our path, we may not believe he could do it.  We can only handle a few steps at a time.  The point is he is still the one leading.  Where will we end up, I don’t know.  The lamp is not very bright right now.

The third change definitely leads to the fourth big change.  Our house lease ends in late April.  Greg is not even done with school yet (I don’t know what we were thinking when we agreed to that timeline).  We do not know what we will do for that time.  When Greg is finished with school here, we do not know where we will live.  It is a few months away, but when the time gets closer, I want to be able to continue to trust.  I am a details-oriented person, so not knowing where I will be three months from now, is a little bit scary.  We will have a brand new baby, I am quitting my job (which is our main source of income), and we have plans to go to Peru but not all of our support.  That is the story right now.  It could all be crystal clear in a matter of weeks.  I don’t know if I will learn my lesson of trust if that happens though.

God is amazing.  He gave us his word so that we can read the stories of his provision and guidance to his people throughout time.  I am one of his people and his story continues.  If anyone reads this post, I have become longwinded like Greg;), hear me say this: God is my provider.  He teaches me in ways that are hard to understand sometimes.  I want to be his follower no matter where that takes me.  I guess I may choose to post again after the next few months.  The journey is about to get very exciting ahead.  All I can do is take his hand and be willing to trust his guidance.  I guess I’ll have to see where this lamp shines…

This little light of mine…

Painting Pictures of Egypt

For the people that know me well, I never in my life saw myself leaving the country as a missionary.  Short-term missions—definitely, but long-term missions, not a chance.  I am only credited with 24 years of experience to my name, but even though I am young, God has taught me two crucial lessons for my life:
1. He is in control and works in mysterious ways.
2. I should live my life constantly fitting myself into God’s plan and not my plan.

Because of certain circumstances, God brought me to my knees my freshmen year of college to realize that I had not totally given myself all to Him.  College was four wonderful years of growth and maturing in the Lord.  In my junior year, I was blessed with an opportunity to study abroad in Chile.  I did not know anyone going, and I viewed the semester as a time to work on my personal relationship to God and seek him where he led me.  I had no idea that I would meet a godly man dedicated to the Lord’s work in Peru, and that our relationship would lead to marriage.
On one of our first dates after our Chile semester, Greg asked me if I could be a missionary’s wife.  The only answer I could come up with was “I don’t know.”  That seemed to work for him, but it was the beginning of a long process for me.  I was raised in a very close family.  The thought of leaving them behind brings tears to my eyes, but am I really leaving them behind?  My parents taught me to love the Lord with all of my heart and to trust him with the direction of my life.  God gave me a love for the Latin culture in high school; God led me to Chile where I cultivated a wonderful relationship with Greg; God blessed our dating, and there is no doubt in my mind that I should be married to him.  Surely God has led me to this place.
But why have I not felt passion for Peru?  Why can’t I have the yearning and burden that Greg has for the city of Arequipa?  These questions have caused many late-night conversations, crying, and praying with my husband.  We diligently prayed for this trip to Peru to open my eyes, to give me a desire to return, to feel passion for the city.  I wanted to write this excerpt to share the impressions of someone who had already seen the city of Arequipa but on this trip could look at it in a whole new way.
The city is beautiful, but more than anything, the people are beautiful.  Greg wrote a wonderful summary of our trip (so I won’t go in to too much detail).  After spending a week with the team in the city and witnessing the countless times God seemed to answer our prayers and set us up with divine contacts, I am confident that he is leading us there.  I am a visual person.  The sights, smells, and feeling of being around people with such need and with such hunger for God left a huge impression on my heart.
So am I good to go?  Am I ready to leave my family behind without a tear?  Absolutely not.  As for now, my passion is still not for the city of Arequipa.  Many cities need missionaries, and needs abound in our own backyards.  My passion is for God’s work.  My passion is for where I can see myself fitting into God’s big plan.  God showed me a piece of his plan in Arequipa.  He sent me there with two other couples also seeking his plan.  He opened multiple doors for us, and gave me a new vision of seeing myself as a worker for His Kingdom there in Peru.  It will be so hard to leave this place, but I cannot deny where God has led us.  A song by Sara Groves entitled “Painting Pictures of Egypt” is very dear to Greg’s and my heart.  If you get a chance, listen to her lyrics.  Here is a short blip from the chorus:

“I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt, leaving out what it lacks, the future feels so hard and I want to go back.  But the places that used to fit me, cannot hold the things I’ve learned, and those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned.”

Sara Groves captures the thoughts of the Israelite people as they remembered back to their time of captivity in Egypt.  God led the people out of a place they had outgrown in order to spread his grace and love throughout the world.  It is easy to remember the places we have been and only remember the good things, especially when our lives seem hard, complicated, or uncomfortable.  But God stretches us and uses our experiences to broaden his Kingdom.  Sometimes we must go through the desert to reach our destination, but in the end we will reach the Promised Land.
My Egypt is a place that is comfortable—a place where I do not stretch and use the experiences and gifts that God has so richly poured into my life.  The future will be hard.  I do not look forward to leaving so many people that I love and care about so many miles away; I am blessed that I am part of a Christian family that blesses my decision, knowing that it is God’s path that I am following.  I cannot deny what God opened my eyes to in the city of Arequipa.  There is a need there that our team desires to help fill.  I am blessed to be a member of  teamArequipa.  I continue to pray for this mission, and I ask that you pray as well.  Thanks to all of you that have so confidently supported us.

Painting Pictures of Egypt