Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just the facts, please!

Ok...so here are the facts!
Shawn and I have been accepted as missionaries with World Harvest Mission (whm.org - look it up!) This is the mission that we have been working with for the last year and a half.  When we went to Sudan and Uganda last year, it was for the purpose of envisioning ourselves there, as part of a team doing God's work.  We loved both places and teams, but felt the fit with Sudan was perfect.  So we attended Assessment and Orientation.  Well, we attended Assessment.  It turns out that we needed to work through a few things still in counseling.  Not one big thing, but a lot of little things.  At first we were taken back by the whole thing...we felt a little humiliated and our pride was wounded.  Yet in it all God proved that he is good.  (Why do we always question that?)  The counseling was amazing and it came at a time that it was definitely needed for us - as we worked through our friend Anthony's death.  Counseling aside we did the MMPI test again and, and after 9 months of questions, we were finally approved.
What does all this mean?  Considering a lot of my friends that read this have a CMA background I just want to clear a few things up.  A 5 year term means that we are on the field for four and then Home assignment for one.  The basic term that most missionaries have.  We will be support raising - we will need financial and prayer support.  Our projected goal of getting to South Sudan (the newest country in the world!) is 18-24 months.  As of now we are still at the Troy and Schenectady churches, and these church families have been amazingly supportive and loving!  They are excited for us and are walking alongside us in this process.
After we meet with our support coach, get our prayer cards, and do a few other things, we will be getting more info out to you all.  But since there are no secrets on Facebook, I thought I should clear up the initial questions!  Thanks for your love, support, encouragement, and friendship through all of this - we will need it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God

You know how you go back to placed where you have spent some time, and there is a distinct feeling that goes along with that place?  We have moved around and visited a lot of places - each of those places hold a place in my thoughts and emotions.  Some wonderful and some that have pain involved - but all are a part of making me who I am.
When Shawn and I were first married we lived in the Philly area.  Shawn had lived there before he met me, and then moved back there for a few months before we were married.  We loved living there!  We were young newly weds, and we spent any free time we had exploring the area - both the touristy spots and the spots that only the locals can tell you about.  It's funny - for being one of the oldest places in the country, it represents new beginnings and fresh starts to me!
And now there is another layer to that.  We are back in the area this week to attend orientation at World Harvest to start preparing to head (hopefully) to South Sudan.  I am not sure how God is going to do all the work that will be a part of this - the two churches we pastor that we love, the fund raising that needs to be done, the personal stress of getting ready for a life unlike anything we've known before.  It is something that could (and does) cause a lot of anxiety in me if I allow myself to think too much on it and be "responsible" for everything.
Last week at Compelled we talked about being involved in the Body, what that meant, and how to do that.  One of the questions I was asked was, "What are the requirements of being involved?"  As I look at the tasks ahead of us, I ask myself that question - what are the requirements of being involved in all this, and do I meet them?
At Shawn's installation at Carman Road Church on Sunday one of the pastors read from Micah 6:8.  "He has told you, Oh man what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to seek justice, love mercy [kindness], and walk humbly with your God?"
Not a new verse to me - and you can hear it on any Christian radio station in the song "Courageous" by Casting Crowns.  But for some reason it stuck out to me and continues to speak to my heart.  How do we continue on in two churches - loving people, seeking God's will for each of them, growing and stretching ourselves and others?  How do we encourage people to be involved (for their own growth) in these bodies?  How do I even begin to wrap my mind around fund raising as we do this?  Do I really fall into the category as one who can do this?  Do I meet those requirements?
I will continue to pray that God would help me to seek justice, love mercy and kindness, and walk humbly with him so that overflows to others around me.  And then I will trust his words of working out his plan for my life.  I will do this with Shawn and the kids, and we will enjoy the ride.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

MMPI - the results are in! ;)

Yep...Shawn and I had to take that wonderful test again recently.  The results are in...and Shawn had results this time!  :)  When we went over then with the counselor I had to laugh.  Being a psychology major in college I think I have done every personality and psychological test there is.  Many times I think we read into them what we want to see, and I am not so sure how much stock to put in them.  But this one...well, the results were scarily accurate!

The counselor says, "So Heather, your results all came back within the normal range [really?!?!] but it does show that you are prone to outbursts of anger and can have an addictive personality.  What do you think of that?"  What do I think of that?  Pass the chocolate and get on with it,  Mr. Shrink!  (OK...so I didn't quite respond that way!)

These last few weeks  I have struggled with numerous outbursts of insecurity, anger, pride, impatience, and selfishness.  There is no real reason for this other than the simple fact that I have not been resting in my Father's love for me.  I am a naturally passionate person, and that leads to outbursts of all sorts of emotions if I am not allowing who I am in Christ to temper it.  It also explains my addictive personality!  If I like something (or someone) I really like it.  And if I don't - well, I just don't.  That second part can be a problem when I am trying to tell people of God's unconditional and absolute love for them, but I can't stand to spend 5 minutes with them!

But I had to laugh because it IS the way my personality is bent - to look at things in extremes; to be passionate and impatient about getting to the results of things and steam-rolling people who get in my way; to desire things (good or bad)  to such and extent that I can't focus on anything else.  That is who I am...without Christ.

But I am NOT without Christ.  And the truth is I need to start living as though I actually believe this.  Life is not going to get easier.  People are not going to always like me naturally - nor I them. We will get in each others way, step on toes, hurt each other, annoy one another, and just plain be mean.  Circumstances will take our breath away - death, destruction, and atrocious things will continue in this world because it is broken.  And so am I - my personalty and the way I respond.  Or at least I was - until I understood what HE did for me.  Now I am no longer that person and I do not have to respond that in that impatient, unloving, selfish way.  I was crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. 

Walking in step with the Spirit means that I can take that crazy passion that often comes out in anger and selfishness and instead allow it to overflow and burst out with love, compassion, and steadfastness.  Instead of the goal-oriented-push-everyone-outta - my -way attitude I can push ahead and go after things that are for others and encourage them to step out of comfort zones and walk with me.  I can take that addictive "I love, REALLY love something" bent and really understand that "To live is Christ, but to die is gain."  Circumstances would no longer have to affect me, because I could love Christ so much and desire after him so that it is all I see, all I long for.

When I first thought about the results of the test, I thought, "How can this change."  Now as I have talked with Shawn and prayed and listened I realize I should be asking, "Spirit, how can you use this for your kingdom?  I am passionate, impulsive, and an addict in the making...what can you do with this?"  I think he will not change that - he created me, after all.  He will just turn those things back from the broken way they come out to the healed and whole way he desired them to appear in the first place.

So thank you, MMPI.  You have helped me realize the that He really is carrying out the work he has started in me.  And it is good.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

This little piggy went to...Compelled

Last night was our Pig Roast for Compelled. We named the night "Beat the Rush" because our hope was to literally beat rush starting on RPI campus, but we didn't manage to do that!  We still had a tremendous turnout and a lot of fun.
Compelled has proven to be quite different from any other ministry we have done before.  We have a conglomeration of people from different backgrounds, churches, places in the world, and personalities - yet it seems to come together well.  Last night was only possible with help from most of the people involved in Compelled and Green Hills, many from out church in Schenectady - Carman Road, a few musicians and friends from Pineview and Oaks of Righteousness, and some people who helped out (and let us borrow a tent and sound system) from Hope UMC!  I love watching the body come together for the purpose of getting HIS love out there instead of focusing on our own things.
Shawn stayed at the church the night before along with two of our kids and a couple of the guys from Compelled.  Even though there was little sleep, there was a lot of laughing from the moment they picked up the pig!  (I will spare you those pictures...)  The music came together, even though it was the first time we played outside together.  There was more than enough food, even when people came back for seconds!  And there were a TON of people that I did not recognize - and that is a good thing!
Thanks for praying for us and this event!  If you are ever in the area feel free to drop in on a Wednesday night at 7, we would love to have you!
Next year though I think we may stick to hotdogs and hamburgers! :)
I will post pics as I get them from people! 

Another in the fire

Maybe you don't know what the process to move overseas is like, but there was a lot of what we thought of as jumping through hoops ...