Featured Post

Why England?

This post talks about some of the reasons why we have a heart for England. Take a look before you continue on to the rest of the blog.   ...

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Almost Done!

Hello my dear friends and partners,

     I don't know if it is just the left over hormones of pregnancy, the tiredness of being a new mom, or the nostalgia that comes with changing seasons.. but as we finish with summer I look back on the last three months in awe at how God brings about transition. 

We learned a lot about being in transition while at our cross cultural training at CIT.  Being between two places is hard, being in the neutral ground or the transition place is like being gone but not having left.  Eric described it best to me one day, he said it is like being on a sail boat (we tend to use that analogy often) and you have traveled too far out to see the shore you left but you haven't reached the place where you can see the land beyond the horizon.  You don't see the current moving under the surface of the water and you don't see the wind building from the east. 
The thing about being in transition is you know when you enter it, its violent and emotional.. you make choices to push off from shore. But you don't always know when you are going to leave it... you hope to, you mark your course.. but you can't know till it happens. You leave transition not like you enter it.. you plan for it but you don't ever realize how quickly it comes upon you.. Leaving transition can best be seen by looking back at the tiny ripples in the water that moved you to the new shore.

We have been in transition for a year now. Last August we took the violent plunge and left our jobs, our home, our independence, life as we knew it.. We left being successful, being accepted, being understood and we dived into the unknown..fully committed to traveling to the other side of the pond (pun intended). We gave up our comfort and everything that made us 'acceptable adults' to society to take up the part of the renegade, the pilgrim, the dependent.. We decided what was important and who we were going to obey (Ourselves and our desire to have the life we were building or God and the call He specifically laid on our lives).

Taking that step was like ripping off a band-aid or knocking down a weight bearing wall.. It affected everything around us. It changed us.  You stop making long term plans, you meet amazing people but you are afraid to get to close because you know you're leaving. You dream of a future but it is half here and half unknown. You want to have a home but you resist putting down more roots and accumulating more stuff you just have to store. Every action and purchase is balanced against "How will this affect our travel?" or "Can we ship it?". 

We expected and wanted our transition period to last a few months..until we realized God had different plans. He planned to bless us with a child during this time. Our transition period took on another meaning.. we were changing what our family was.  We were learning who we were, what it meant to lay down our wants, our plans. We became a family of three and through it learned God's love and passion and plan in a whole new way.

Now a year later we are not the same people, we are not in the same place, and we could never go back. We are not perfect, we didn't make it all right and we definitely didn't always do it with the greatest of all attitudes.  But we took that first step and we didn't turn back, I think that is what God is really asking of us.

It took longer than we thought and we haven't reached that new shore yet but we see land. While there have been times of deep discouragement, worry, and anxiety that we would be floating in the deep abyss for life.. in the midst of those times God shone like the Northern Star. He never left us nor forgot us, though at times it felt like he did. He prepared for us, He prepared us and He showed us His plan.  He encouraged us through partners, friends, verses, songs, and small acts of His presence.

We are happy to say that we see land, that our transition period is almost to an end. We are only 28% away from being fully funded, we are weeks away from having all our passports, and our budget amendments have all but been approved. We talked with our GEM adviser and he agreed that we should be able to leave by November 14th (the earliest).  If we are unable to get the last remaining funds or the paper work done by then we have to wait for the holiday window to pass. (GEM doesn't send new missionaries for the last 6 weeks of the year due to holiday and wanting to set up a good transition).  If not November we are able to leave January 6th when the window opens again. 

We are so excited to see God's work and plan as He moves us closer to the finish line of this transition period. We have started sorting what needs to be shipped, we have applied for Stephen's passport, and we are starting to prepare to say 'good-bye' well. 

We are trusting by faith that God has a way of finishing this journey for us. We don't always know how but we can see him start to wrap it all up. There is a saying we read in a devotional that we remind each other of when we get discouraged.

"When God asks you to move; first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done."

When we started it looked impossible, this past year has been extremely difficult, we are excited for it to be done.  Then once we are out of the transition period the impossible task of creating a young adult ministry starts... I can't wait for God to finish that one :)

We want to say a big thank you to our partners and friends who have stuck with us during this transition time. Your faithfulness in your prayers and support has encouraged us as we head for this final leg. It will be what helps us as we start ministry and settle into a new life and new home. We are so greatfull we get to serve in ministry along side of you - we couldn't ask for a better team.

Praise God for He is good and His works are right.


Friday, August 3, 2018

A Father's love through a mother's heart

We were so blessed to welcome Stephen James into our family on July 17th at 12:01pm.  We had a scheduled c-section during which everything went 'almost' textbook perfect. I was told by my doctor that once they had taken my baby out he would be laid on my chest.  But he wasn't... I knew something was wrong when the doctor's stopped talking to me and instead gathered around Stephen.  I sent Eric over to see what was going on and laid there unable to move trying to hear exactly what was being said.  
Turns out my little boy blew two tiny holes, one in each lung when he let out his first cry. This meant that he got air on the outside of his lungs so they had to take him down to the NICU.  Now the reason we chose this particular hospital was because it was the only one in the area with a NICU, but I never really thought we would need it. 
I got to see him for a minute and kiss his forehead before they whisked him away,  When we got to see him a few hours later he had a cpap machine on to keep his lungs expanded, to help them heal, an IV for sugar water, and a tube down his mouth to remover any extra air in his stomach. Thankfully he was only ever on 21% oxygen, which is what we breath normally.  

We would have to wait till later that night to get to hold him.  Our God is a healer.  He spent his first two nights in the NICU but was able to leave Thursday morning with a completely clean bill of health.  The air around his lungs was absorbed into his body and the holes healed, he was coming home with us.  Things don't always go the way you think they will, sometimes they have rough starts.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I learned a lot the moment we became parents, I learned a lot more the moment I saw my newborn hooked up to a number of machines. I learned how much you can love, how much you can ache, and how much you can want good for some who has done absolutely nothing to warrant that from you. 

Now as we sing our songs and say our prayers before bed, I often still have tears in my eyes. Because becoming a mom showed me a small glimpse of how much God loves me. Because I want good for Stephen, I want him to be soothed when he is fussy, I want to take away every cry.. But I am also jealous for Stephen. I want his attention and focus, I want to make him smile and laugh....  I love that little boy with no limits and no reasons.. he isn't capable of doing anything to earn it. In fact he is completely helpless and reliant on me for his every need....

What a beautiful picture of God's heart for us reflected through parenthood. He loves us soo much with such an unending love. While I will get frustrated and make mistakes He never will. He wants to wipe our tears, He longs for us to reach out to Him when we are in need. He listens to our desires, worries, and fears and answers our prayers.  He has plans for us and wants what is best for us, even if we don't understand. He is also jealous for us, a pure desire that we worship and pursue Him, that we spend time with Him..  He wants to be our focus.. and we don't do anything to deserve it.. In fact we can't do anything to earn it, we are dependent on him for our every need....

How beautiful is that. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Today is the day!

 The day is here. The day we've been praying over for the last 2 years. As we drive to the hospital we want to thank you for joining us in praying for our little blessing Stephen James. 

Please continue to pray for wisdom, safety, and health. Pray for an easy surgery and quick recovery. Also for our transition into a family of three.

From preparing to growing a baby bump this has been such a blessed experience .

Today we get to meet our little baby boy.

Monday, July 2, 2018

A visit up north.


I hope you are surviving this heat... I am hanging in there - thankfully cocooned in our bedroom and basement living room. I have never been so blessed than by the window air conditioner my in-laws put in our bedroom window. It keeps our bedroom nice and cool and even helps the living room from heating up too much.  Poor Eric is left sleeping with a few quilts while I can barely handle the sheet. But thankfully only 2 more weeks and then we can return to normal, at least temperature wise.

This past weekend we were so blessed to get to travel up north to Escanaba where we were able to share at Lakeside Christian Church. It was wonderful to get to meet the people there and share with them our heart for the youth and young adults in Somerset.  The congregation was so welcoming and encouraging. After we shared our vision we had a time of question and answer, I was really excited to hear the questions and interest that the families had for us. It is always great to get to interact with the body of Christ.  We felt so loved and uplifted as we drove home (well Eric did the driving - he's my hero). 

We are excited to build a relationship with the church and hope to see them again before we leave. Plus this gives us a chance to introduce Stephen too.

Side note: On the way home we stopped in Marionette, to grab some lunch. We stopped at this small hometown family restaurant. They had great food but the best part was they served homemade rootbeer in a frosted glass. Eric was soo excited!  We decided he should buy a refill (sometimes treats are worth it) when the waitress came around and refilled his cup for free.... oh he was a happy guy! 
I love that we get to have these small little moments on this adventure of life.

Also just to note, newsletters are out slightly late this month, sorry about that- between Eric finishing his last class (HE GOT AN A!) and the doctor appointments for baby we got a little behind.

God Bless,

Friday, June 8, 2018

Representing Jesus to Others

Hello everyone,

Eric writing this time - I wanted to take a moment and share with you an amazing lesson I learned from a class I am currently taking.  As some of you know I am currently enrolled in classes at Global University where I am studying Bible and Theology. I started taking these classes because of the work we are going to do in Somerset, England.  However, the lessons and personal growth I am experiencing from the course work has been just amazing for my daily walk with God and has been useful in situations I have encountered here as well.

I am currently studying Jesus' life and how He is represented, or how it was recorded, in the synoptic gospels (which include Matthew, Mark, and Luke). They are called the synoptic gospels because the three of them tell the story of Christ in a similar way but from different view points.

In studying, I found it fascinating that even though the different gospel authors each tell the same story they were impacted differently and highlighted how that transformed their lives. What impacted them the most or what they knew would impact their audience the most comes out in their writing.  While their differences has brought up many discussions between theologians they can be explained by looking at how each author would approach the subject being written about. Matthew and Mark would write differently since their original audiences were Jewish and Gentile, respectively, and would come from different backgrounds with different understanding.  While one author may focus more on setting his reader up to understand Jesus' ministry chronologically another would combine similar teaching so his reader would be able to focus on the bigger lessons that were taught.

Going into this course there were details about the gospels that I was aware of from other sermons, classes, and studies.  While I knew Mathew wrote to the Jews while Mark wrote to more of a Gentile audience; I didn't pay attention to how this affected their representation of the events they recorded.  I didn't realize how their backgrounds and their intention for writing changed what they viewed as important enough to be recorded. I want to be careful to make it clear, they were not sharing different gospels, all three wrote the same message or the same savior, they just emphasized what would be needed for their audience to understand that message.

This has all been a very interesting lesson as I sit in my quiet times and talk with God. I think about our future ministry in England and how we are going to reach this different culture. This means I need to be able to share the fundamental message of the gospel in away that illuminates the aspects their culture will understand and relate too.  Like the gospel writers I need to give an accurate representation of Christ while stressing the different factors, lessons, and prominent facts they would be able to easily grasp.  I think about how to best teach people who Jesus is and what His mission truly was.  When I talk with people do I included what is relevant to their situation or do I simply state the stories and verses I have rehearsed since childhood?

When Jesus taught, he approached people where they were at and used parables and comparisons that included situations and materials they would be familiar with. He used the every day life they knew to help explain the mystery of the kingdom He came to bring.  He taught faithfulness, grace, and the need for forgiveness through stories of farming, working for a boss, and owing a debt to a judge.  When He was teaching Jews he would use the scriptures and proverbs that they would have been familiar with and heard from other rabbis. When the author's of the gospels wrote they followed His example and used a language and methodology that their original readers would understand and connect with.  We should be doing this when we share the gospel, sharing God's love in truth but in  a way that people will understand.

As I stated above, sometimes having different view points recorded of the same event leads to disruptions and conflicts. For me it is interesting that the more I learn from the different views the more I am able to build a fuller picture of who God is.  Each gospel in its own way reflects the love and mercy of God that shines through the faithful and sacrificial ministry of His Son, Jesus. Each author shows the grace and forgiveness we are offered through the sacrifice of Christ's death that was required for our debt that we couldn't pay.  Their main focus, woven through out their story is God's desire to save us and restore the relationship that was lost so long ago.  The same focus that Jesus had when He taught His parables to the listening public.

How do you see Jesus?  Are you trying to share his love with others in your life?  Are you aware of His love but unaware of the passion and heart that He sowed into His time on earth? Or, are you trying to understand that His love and grace are there for you too. That like the original audience of the gospel you are invited to be a part of the family of God that Jesus so often talked about?
Do you see the Jesus that is represent in the the gospels, the view that has been collaborated through other sources, or the version that Hollywood has concocted through poorly done research?

I challenge you, no matter where you are at - to pick up one of the gospels. They all show Jesus and one of them is written in a way the will help you understand His journey on earth and His sacrifice for you.

God Bless,
Eric M.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sharing at churches

Good evening, 

We have been home for a month now and it is still feeling like we haven't stopped moving.. but that is good.  We were blessed a few Sunday's ago to have a chance to share with our home church what we learned at our Pre-Field Training in April. It was so good to be back with our church family and to get to thank them for their support in sending us off. 
That Sunday we shared, were prayed over by our church, and Eric got to lead communion. He shared the lesson we learned about the cross. That while we see the cross as big enough to cover the gap when we are first saved it tends to not stay big enough. That the more we learn about God's righteousness and the more aware we are of the depravity of our sin we tend to think that the cross isn't big enough to cover that gap.  So we fill it in with 'religious standards' or 'good works' or we downplay God's law...  because we think we need to help the cross. But the truth is that the cross has always been and always will be big enough to cover the gap between us and God. 

We were also blessed this Sunday to share at New Life Church in Pulaski. We are so excited to partner with them as we continue to strive towards the goal God has set before us. It was great to get to share our heart and the need in England. While there we got to meet some amazing people and look forward to building on those relationships.

Next week we are off to Grace Bible church to share then we will get to attend our home church before making a visit to some of our partner churches. 

 - if you believe your church may be interested in hearing about the youth/young adult ministry we are going to start in England, please let me know. We would love to share some information with you and them to see if we can set up a time to share.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

This popped up on Facebook

This came up in my memories from 2 years ago, we were commissioned by GEM and then sent home to start our fundraising training so that we could start fundraising that summer.

This journey that God has been leading us on has been one of the scariest, hardest, most difficult, faith demanding,  self denying, God relying seasons in my life. But in it - beyond the moments of fear, doubt, loss, and release has been some of the biggest God providing, God speaking, God leading moments I have ever experienced. 

When we started I thought I could plan it all out, that I could  rationalize and organize it so that it would be a minor inconvenience to make a major change. I thought I had learned about sacrifice and understood my faith to be strong.  BUT God had so much more in store. He isn't worried about my schedule or my organized lists... He, in all his devine grace, is worried about my heart..about me becoming more like Him,  heaven focused leaving the things of this world behind.

One thing we covered at training was that God isn't just worried about or focused on the ministry to the people we are going to serve - even if that's all we can see. He is also just as focused on me and invested in our growth and the ministry we have to our family, friends, and partners here. It stood out, that tiny two letter word in the middle of the sentence.  God is really going to use this time to invest in me and worry about my growth? When we started I was looking at this season of 'in-between' as just a time to rush through and use to get to the final point (UK). But God, as my loving Father, saw this time as a chance to grow me and help me.

And He has.. like I said above.. I have learned so much about me and about my God. It is still hard, when the partner meeting is canceled, when the church says they can't support missionaries going to a first world country, when I want so badly to raise our little one in a home all our own, when I talk with youth in England and I just want to be there ministering, when you can't give a leaving date because it's not in your power to make it happen at that time no matter how hard you try... we (as missionaries) don't admit that often because we are supposed to seem like we have an unshakable faith and complete battle plan... but I am human and the journey is long....

BUT GOD gives grace and there's those moments when someone who never thought of England starts praying for the people,  when we meet missionaries at conferences who were where we are twenty years ago but have been on the field eversince, when after crying out to God he brings up a verse or song, when we are counting the days and we get an encouraging  text or card from a partner, when another person sees God's plan for Somerset and joins our team...

I have learned about leaving, loving, counting the cost, and listening. I have seen God move and comfort and provide. I am so excited to see what he does next.. not just when we get to England but as we wait here in the 'in-between'. What I all didn't know when this picture was taken makes me amazed at how much God still has to show me and makes me wonder what I will be able to write when we take out first picture in England. 

Thank you for taking this journey with us.  ♡