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unexpected

Recently I was walking from our house to the grocery store.  To do that, I have to cross a bridge over the Hudson River.  I had been to the post office and library and was thinking how nice it was to be able to walk to everything, because it gave me some serious prayer time.  I had been praising God because earlier in the day a friend had called and asked for prayer, and just before my walk had told me that God had met her in that.  It had also been a great week of fund raising, and on top of it all, we heard from a friend that they wanted to give us their van.  In other words, it was a time of great thanksgiving and praise in my talking with God.  I was not depressed or coming to him and pouring my frustrations and anger out (as I have done many times!)  This was simply a time of joy with my Father.  Then, as I was crossing the bridge, it was as if I physically bumped into a wall.  I almost "bounced back" and in that moment - what was probably just a second or two, but fel…

growing up

Yesterday we took John on a college visit to Nyack.  He is young - only 10th grade.  But he will be in Africa when we should be doing the college visit rounds, so we decided to get him in the loop as we traveled and give him some opportunities to see what is out there.  Since we were visiting family and friends and doing some support raising in the NYC area, we decided to make an appointment at Nyack and let him check it our.  If nothing else, we figured we would get a free lunch! ;)  He was not real receptive to the idea of visiting.  He seemed to be bucking the idea and not at all excited, which I couldn't figure out.  However, as we sat in the admissions office and he met some of the people working there, I watched him grow up before my eyes.  Where was the boy who was shy and introverted?  Here was a young man making eye contact, answering all the questions, laughing and enjoying the whole thing.  Later, as we sat in the cafeteria, he admitted that he thought it would be a bi…

lessons from little hearts

I learn so much from my kids.  They are really God's biggest blessings to me.

Anna wanted to go Christmas shopping - for me - today!  (Yay - I like gifts, I admit it!)  And the kids decided to exchange names with each other so they could get a little something for each other without going broke.  They just love to give gifts!  So I headed out the door with Anna, Andrew, and RJ this morning to go looking.  We were planning to go to the dollar store, Walmart, and Big Lots.  My thought was that they would find a few little things at the dollar store and then we could head home and forget the other stores.  They each found some fun stuff at the dollar store - but then wanted to go to Walmart to head to the lego department.  Apparently, they decided that the best idea was to forgo the little pieces of things that break and to get something that the person really wanted.  I hesitated.  See, my kids don't really get an allowance.  And the younger two don't have jobs to make ext…

home again, home again...

After a wonderful week of being in Ithaca and seeing family and friends, eating Thanksgiving dinner with my family and with Shawns, hunting (Shawn) and bringing home the bacon...I mean venison, and spending some time with our friends from Hillside CMA, we are home.  For about three days.  Then we are off agin.  I guess that is what life is like for missionaries while we are "home."  Thankfully our kids are flexible.  As we outlined our next few months travels on a map with them during school, they got excited to see where we will be headed.  Now if we could just figure out the vehicle situation...
Thank for your prayers as we continue this support raising blitz to get to South Sudan asap!

Bittersweet

Yesterday we had a good day of eating, walking, zumba-ing, laughing, talking, and hanging out at my Dad's house for Thanksgiving.  It was a a relatively calm day, and we were able to to enjoy each other and catch up.  Cousins played together, there was more than enough food, and we had a good time.  Today the kids are excited because Shawn's parent's have planned a "treasure hunt" for them.  This is something that usually happened at Cousin Camp each summer, but this year Cousin Camp was no more, so the kids had some specific things that they missed.  One of the big ones was the treasure hunt! We are also having another turkey dinner with them, so there is more thanksgiving celebrations happening.

Each of these holidays are wonderful.  I love getting together with people and catching up.  It doesn't have to be some huge event - movie night with friends is something I cherish.  On New Years Eve we are hosting a party for friends in the area (If you are aroun…

Catching up on the thanks...

As we went to the Philly area last week, I left Troy with a heavy heart.  The night before I had a wonderful small group time with my girls (see below post) and was really feeling the weight of the loss that was facing us as we left this area.  The excitement I had previously felt about getting to World Harvest and meeting with a lot of people down there seemed to be drowned in my sadness and weariness.
But God is good.
As we got closer I managed to pass time by taking a little nap (I was not driving, obviously!) and when I woke up it was as if my head was clear and my  heart was ready to look at the here and now and not at what we will be gaining or losing in future.  I am really bad at that - the here and now.  As we were being prayed for by the WHM team at the sending center, someone prayed that specifically for us, and I felt God's presence and his Spirit as he enveloped me and calmed all those fears, nerves, and anxieties.
So, once again, I am reminded of all I have and I …

My girls...

After an amazing night of openness, authenticity, tears, and prayer small group is over once again.  I am getting down to single digits of the times I will be able to be with these women on a regular basis, and it makes me feel like throwing up.  (I seem to be talking about throwing up a lot in my blogs lately...)  Seriously - it's one of those nights where the loss feels too great, and I could give into it.  But this blog is about thankfulness this month - so I will press on.

I am thankful for these women.  I am thankful for the time that I have had with them.  The conversations.  The tears and laughter (there have been plenty of both!)  The realness.  And the prayers - oh, the calling on God that has happened in that group!  For our families, our friends, our town, our church, our ministries, ourselves!  And the answers that have come in have been in abundance.  We have watched children return to Jesus; healing happen in all aspects - mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual;…

overflowing

Despite counting the thanks the last few days, it has been a season of a lot of anxiety for me recently.  Things that we are working through in our hearts and minds have given a heavy burden.  I have been overwhelmed with sadness and distress for a few friends who are going through really low spots right now.  And support raising - well, let's just say that this is one thing that is testing my not-so-patient personality more than anything I have experienced!  With the combination of these things, we recently called to God to show himself in an obvious and tangible way.  I don't feel bad doing this - I'm in good company if you read through the Bible.
Let me just say that God knows how to answer that prayer - even in excess.  Situations have not necessarily changed (that I know of), yet His love for me and his answers to prayers overflowed today.  Support came in from places not expected, prayers for friends started pouring out of my heart and mouth with hope and anticipat…

keeping it going...

I am thankful for friends who come over and eat cheesecake, listen to silly songs, and just laugh together.

I am thankful for this computer that allows me to stay in contact with people all over the world easily and quickly!

I am thankful for Al and Ru, who put a lot of time, effort, and creativity into our friendship and into helping us raise support!  They are amazing people, and I love them!

I am thankful for the chance to home school my kids - even though some days I am exhausted from it and feel so much less than adequate.  I see good things in them that I know are partly because of this choice for our family.  They will have other things that are become challenges because of this choice, but I am thankful for those things, too, because I believe it is all a part of God's plan for them.

I am thankful that our church blessed us with a gift card and I could buy Anna pants and shoes that actually fit!  (These kids never stop growing!)

I am thankful for the pumpkin scented can…

more thanks

I am thankful for heat, as I sit here shivering in the cold air this morning!  (I am also praying for all those going without electricity right now!)

I am thankful for the summer I had with Christina and her little Logan (Or not-so-little Logan!)  I miss them terribly, but am grateful for a summer of laughs, tears, games, memories, late night talks, funny videos, and growing together as moms!  I love them both!

I am thankful that my daughter is at a birthday party today of a good friend and that John had two of his friends over last night.  It is a good thing to see your kids develop friendships and learn in them.

I am thankful for the library being just three blocks down the street, and that we can go there as much as we want and get books to read and videos and watch for free!  And it's a good sized one, so there are many options!

I am thankful for a few minutes of quiet time this morning as I sit writing this and "the crew" is mostly still sleeping!  I feel peaceful…

thanks overflowing

It's November already!  (I am not sure how that happened!)  So I am doing my usual thankfulness count this month.  The difference is that thanks to a friend recommending "One Thousand Gifts"by Ann Voskamp  I have been doing this all year - and it has really affected me.  But since I always need to process and think through writing, I am going to make those things more public through this blog.  Would you count along with me this month?

Today I am so, so thankful for my husband.  Shawn is my best friend.  He was my hero when I was a  confused and angry little 18 year old girl, and he held my hand and has walked with me through some of the hardest moments in my life.  I am so thankful for this man that is my best friend and an amazing father.

I am also thankful for my kids as they are growing and becoming their own people.  What a gift I was given in these 4 people!   I love to see their personalities grow and shape.  They love Jesus, us, and each other.  They make me la…

loss

As I sit here the first full day after Sandy made her way through the Northeast, I am stunned at the amount of damage she left behind.   Pictures of NYC and the Jersey shore made me hurt for people that live there and have lost everything - even to the extent of their lives.  It is reminiscent of so many disasters all over the world.  This blog is basically me processing, so sorry for my rambling!

I have been thinking about loss a lot today.  There are so many different ways to experience this - and none of them are easy.  Losing my mom at such a young age was - and still is - a big hit.  Having to leave Malawi - a place where I felt at home for the first time - left a hole.  Letting go of things that I think "should have been" in my life and actually allowing myself to heal when sometimes I would rather wallow.  Moving around so much in our lives has meant loss of those daily friendships with people that I have loved.  Yes, we have been blessed to have friends that will re…

good things

We are settled into our new house in Waterford, and enjoying the goodness of all the things God has given us recently.  This church (Grace Episcopal Church) has been more than generous to us as they bring us food, meals, and encouragement - along with a free house!  We enjoyed worshiping with them this week.

Other things that we are thankful for in the past few weeks:

*It's missions conference at Compelled and we are having the International worker stay with us.  He is from Mali, Africa, and listening to his stories of life there for the past 34 years is fun, encouraging, and heart-breaking (as they are retiring after so long there!)

*A few days away at Silver Bay where pastors and their families can stay for free.  Though it was chilly, the kids played in Lake George, we played tennis (in jeans and winter jackets!), and rested and enjoyed each other for a few nights.  The best thing about this place is that I don't have to cook or clean up!  Whoo hoo!

*Celebrating Anna…

Home Sweet Home

I'm not quite sure what that phrase even means, sometimes!  In the 16+ years we have been married, we have moved 17 times.  And we stayed in one house in Kinsman for 4.5 years!  I guess not owning a home means that rent prices go up and all that good stuff.  When we were in Malawi we moved three times before being able to settle in the mission housing of some Southern Baptist friends, because the Malawian landlords thought they could get a good price from the Americans!  But that's neither here nor there....

Welcome to our new place!
 The Grace Episcopal Church of Waterford, NY has graciously let us live in their empty rectory free of charge while we are raising support to go to South Sudan!  And I have to say - it's good to be back in the Troy, NY area!  It takes only 10 minutes to get to Compelled, and we are actually able to do school at home, eat all our meals, and still go to church Wednesday night instead of packing up and spending the day there!  And we can hang ou…

It's not about us...

Yesterday afternoon we headed to Skaneatles, NY to celebrate 5 years of the Duk Lost Boy's Clinic in South Sudan.  It was a fundraiser for the clinic, and we figured, "Why not?"  Not only is it for an immensely good cause, but it's for South Sudan - and we may meet some people that have a heart for S. Sudan and big purses (just being real, here...)

Well, it turns out that Shawn and I are a lot better at hanging out at that table with the Lost Boys and their families and talking about the life in South Sudan as opposed to here than we are at schmoozing with the donors.  In fact, I have not felt more out of place in a LONG time!  ;)  But it was a good time, and it did do something very important for both of us - it reminded us of why we were called to all this to begin with.


Support raising is a crazy time, let me tell you.  If you have never had to do it - be thankful! It is constantly on our hearts and in our faces as we have meetings with our support coach (whom …

Hello from NC

I am sitting here in my room in Marion, NC on my new friend (and roomie for the week) Audrey's computer.  I intended to get on and blog about all that I have been learning at this training, but honestly, most of it is still a jumble in my mind and I am processing so much info.  So I will let you know a few basics about what I am learning here... CHE (Community Health Development) is something that I new very little about before coming here.  I understood that it was a preventative training - one to help educate people in healthy living things and ways to improve their lives.  The official definition in our handbooks actually says, "broad based first-tier community health balanced with spiritual teaching." For those who still don't quite understand that definition - let me give you a very basic example:  Lack of clean drinking water in a community causes many illnesses and deaths.  One thing a CHE would do is to help people identify the issue, help them determine way…

ch-ch-ch-changes

August has been crazy busy.  Yep, that's my excuse for not being on here as much as usual.  But God has been at work in us and with us.  I am almost feeling overwhelmed about what to write here because there are so many things I would like to share, but I don't want to scare anyone off with the length of this blog! It has been a month of change, beginning of transitions, and a time of starting to let go.  To take the steps out of the boat and try to focus on Him and what he asks instead of the waves around us.  We have often failed at that, and after a few moments of panic have had to cry, "Lord, save me!"  And he does.  He was all along.  lovingly, patiently, and perfectly.

So what has been happening?


The beginning of the month was when we candidated a family to come in as the assistant pastor at Troy and the eventually take over Shawn's role as Senior Pastor.  We are so excited about hiring Andy and Beverly.  Yet in reality there were a lot of emotions and &…

the kiddos

In our journey to South Sudan we have had a lot of people ask us questions of all sorts - and we love to answer them.  Even those questions that we have answered a thousand times are fun to answer because it means we get to keep talking about the love that we have for the country and the people, and the excitement we feel about going there.  However there has been one question (or comment) people ask that we find ourselves answering in different ways depending on how we are feeling that day.  That has to do with our kids and the implication that we are may not be doing the best thing for them.  This is hard for any of us that are parents, as we question and re-question our actions each day.  I believe God has called us a family and did not give our kids to us by accident.   However, the added factors of going to a third world country still recovering from war, a place in the world that continues to teeter in instability - this "ups the ante".
I have avoided writing this blo…

love, true love

This weekend we were at a wedding of some wonderful friends that Shawn had the honor of marrying.  Shawn takes marrying people very seriously and has turned down more couples than he has actually married. Yet the 13 couples that he has married are all still together, and this makes us both very happy.  To know that we both invested time and love into another family and then watching as they grow in love with Christ and each other is so amazing.  We take no credit for it - but we do feel a special love for those couples that we got to bond with this way.


At a wedding, one of my favorite things to do is to watch the groom. While others are watching the bride and oohing and ahhing over her dress and her beauty, I am watching the groom watch his bride.  There are many ways a groom can react - if he is nervous he may look very serious.  Or sometimes I have seen a groom look like he is about to sign his life away (thankfully not at any weddings that Shawn has done!) Usually, though, I see …

surgery fun

Thanks to all of you who prayed for Shawn this week when he had surgery.  He downplayed it a bit, so people were shocked when they saw the amount of stitches he had, but he is healing and doing well.  He had surgery Tuesday to remove a tumor from a salivary gland.  It required a bigger cut than I realized.  And since the tumor was surrounding several nerves, he is still numb - like he had Novocaine.  Also, it is starting to heal inside so it is itchy, but the outside is still numb so he can't even feel when he tries to itch it!  So frustrating for him, I am sure!


The bandages make it look like he had major brain surgery - but it was just a hard place to cover! lol
Swollen from the stitches
We are headed off today to do a wedding of two amazing young people - an honor that comes in with the title of pastor!  Thanks!

Crossing Cultures

Yesterday began our journey into things unfamiliar.  Shawn and I headed up to Ausable Forks, NY (Right outside of Plattsburg, for most of you who will ask me later) and met with Deacon Patti from the St. James Episcopal Church there.  What a wonderful time we had with this amazing group of people!


Having grown up in the CMA, we are not familiar with the liturgy and form that accompanies this church.  The first time I attended a service at Oaks with Hannah and Christina I almost laughed at my lack of knowing what to do - stand, sit, repeat, answer, etc.  I felt like a little kid instead of a pastor's wife - it opened my eyes to how "real people" feel coming into church! When we were in South Sudan it was the same way.  Yes, the service was in Moru and Juba Arabic, and every once in a while translated into a few English phrases.  But the big thing was that I couldn't even guess what was being said or what was occurring because I was as unfamiliar with the Anglican chu…

I think we are insane...lol

It's been a while since I blogged, and I am not sure if I should apologize about that or not?  haha - sometimes my ramblings even get on my own nerves!  Anyway...





We spent last week at Delta Lake with a camp full of people who love Jesus and were (mostly) excited to hear about our heart for South Sudan.  The thing that makes that ironic is how much I struggled with the realities of what life will be like when we get there during camp this last week.  As much as I enjoyed the community of people being around constantly, there was also the reminder that, despite the fact I think I am mostly an extrovert, I still have introvert qualities - like the need for time alone to rejuvenate and recharge.  Every where I went there were people - in the cabin was the whole family plus Christina and Logan, outside was the youth tab and people walking by, at the dock were lifeguards and kids, at the main tab was people that I loved seeing and having the chance to hang out with-but still made it s…

focus, young padawan!

"The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees."  Brother Lawrence


Recently I have been so ready to come back to some form of simplicity in my life.  This life is a busy, noisy place for most people, and my life is no different.  With 8 people living in our house right now (including a sweet and happy newborn-not mine!), there is not a lot of time when it is completely silent or calm.  With two churches moving along and good things happening - one of them being 20 miles away - we are often on the road and visiting with people.  And with the continued raising support to head to South Sudan, there is a lot of planning and talking and visiting and educating happening there!  I love this - sitting still has never been a strong point for me!  But it also causes me to focus more on…

The joy of Joy

This week Shawn's Aunt Joy turned 75, and her kids put on a big bash for the celebration!  I love going to Shawn's family parties-this is a HUGE family, and they are a lot of fun.  And once you are in, you are IN!  Hanging out, laughing, eating, playing games, and more laughing is always involved in these get togethers.

This party was not only fun and celebratory for an amazing woman that we love - but Aunt Joy took it one step further and asked people to donate to our World Harvest Account in place of traditional gifts.  What a blessing.  Not only did we receive a good chunk of money towards our ministry there, but we had several more opportunities to talk about getting to the place that our hearts and going more and more each day.

Aunt Joy has always been a great gift to our family, but this day was a special blessing to us.  It encouraged us in ways that she may not even realize.  Because, yes - we DO need monthly donors to help us get to the field and stay there for our …

Love in the gaps

"If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer: Intercession is a way of loving others."  Richard Foster


I have had some thing become very clear to me recently.  I have started to love recklessly.  Not selflessly - not by any means.  In fact, most of my love for others comes with some sort of expectation, if I am being completely honest.  I wish it didn't, but it is always there in the back of my mind trying to poke it's ugly, selfish head out.  Regardless, when I love you - really love you, I love with abandonment.  


As a woman who has been in ministry my whole adult life, I have had to learn to love difficult people.  (I am sure people would say the same of me!)  But there has usually been a holding back in that love; a self protection mechanism where I feel like if I do not love completely, and give completely, then when it is time to leave, or when I am disappointed by someone, it…

this crazy, amazing life

God is such a crazy, amazing, wild God, isn't he?  Yet in the midst of all of it, he is a calm refuge.  I don't understand how those two things work, but I am so glad that it does!

A few things that I have been so thankful for in the past couple of weeks:

A GREAT time in the Buffalo area with friends from a decade ago.  Laughing, sharing, praying together, laughing some more...it was wonderful!  And watching my kids hit it off with the kids there was great, too.

Watching Anna go to Junior high Youth group at Kenmore...where were got our official start!  (All I could think was, "I hope this Jr high youth is not a crazy as ours was!"  HA!)

Laughing at RJ for trying to eat without his two front teeth - which are FINALLY starting to come in.  Poor kid - he's a mess-maker as it is, but now there are constant food stains on his cheek where he tries to eat from the side of his mouth!

A visit to the magnificent Niagara Falls.  When we lived close and went all the time,…

a quote

I saw this on a friend's wall today on Facebook, and have thought about it all day:

"Worry is not believing God will get it right, and bitterness is believing God got it wrong." Tim Keller

The worry part I knew and understood - it is something I think about often as I get anxious and fret.  However,  I have never thought of bitterness that way before. It makes me really dig deeper into my reaction to some things.  I have a deep desire to trust God in all circumstances - past, present, and future.  Honestly, it gives me much relief and freedom to really live that way - realizing I don't have to "remind" God, nag him, reprimand him, or worry that he has "ulterior" motives.  Who am I to say he is not doing things right or that God got it wrong in the past? Isn't it more freeing to just believe he is who he says he is, he loves as he says he does, and he has a perfect plan that he is carrying out to completion in our lives?

This quote came at exac…

Life and death

This week has been a full week - a wonderful, fun, and amazing week in many ways- but FULL! I spent the earlier part of the week at Silver Bay on Lake George with my family and some great friends. Then we had Compelled. Then I was off to the Ladies retreat this weekend. I went early so I could spend some extra time with my sisters, who were coming to hang out with me! The retreat was great, the speakers amazing, and I made a few new friends - that is always a good thing. In the middle of my chaos-as-usual life, I watched as life and death played out in the lives of people I care about. A family that I have known for a long time and adore lost a husband/father suddenly on Sunday. It was very unexpected, and even as they came to the retreat this weekend (they needed to be with people that loved them and hear God's word) I was amazed at how God's love played out for them through his people. As I sang "You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say, blesse…

laughing at myself

If you knew me in high school and even college, but have not seen me much since then, you may not recognize me. I'm not just talking the extra weight gain (though that is true, also!) but rather the fact that I was quite shy and quiet around most people during that time of life. My closest friends would laugh at that statement- they saw me when I was comfortable and able to be myself more. As an adult I feel like I have become more comfortable in my own skin in many ways. I know my roles for the most part, and have worked on becoming the best I can be in those roles whether that is as a wife, mom, pastor's wife, friend, daughter, etc.

In that, though, I realize what a perfectionist I can be when it comes to what I expect from myself. And when I have a longer period of time of "learning" and not "excelling" than I think I should, I get really impatient, self conscious, and insecure again. This phlebotomy thing is a good example of that. I was so ner…