Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Suffering


I heard a powerful sermon series the other day from a pastor who was teaching at our church while I was down in Chihuahua, Mexico. The subject was suffering. The world, and especially our society in America, flees from suffering. I can understand that - discomfort, hard work, pain, death - these were all part of the curse Adam's sin brought on the world. Of course we'd want to run from that.

Isn't it awesome how God takes a curse and twists it around? Adam had just handed the world over to Satan, and God's already got a plan for fixing it. Jesus took the punishment of the curse when he died on the cross. Yes, there's still suffering, but now it's beneficial to those who know God through Jesus. Suffering now serves God's plan to draw us closer to Him, make us more reliant on Him, and fill us with His power. 

The gist of the sermon series was this: not only is suffering necessary for the growth of the Christian, but we should actually be pursuing it because that's what we're called to do: share in Christ's suffering and rejoice to be counted worthy. We will be rewarded, both now and in the next life.

I'm glad I heard the sermons when I did. Bonnie and I are going through a rough time right now (nothing major, not like the difficulties some of you are going through). I trust God that we will come out of this more reliant on Him; and in that reliance, we'll see His strength and power through our weakness and helplessness.

You probably just think I'm weird (join the club), but if you're interested, the sermon series can be found here:


Pictures from our recent trip to the Tacoma Children's Museum:





- Gabe Ledford, 12-3-2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pride and Submission

A visiting missionary(the Mom of our YWAM staff missionaries!) spoke to our little community at Trinity yesterday morning. Her topic was spiritual warfare, and she said something I had never considered before: "The Enemy doesn't attack when you're down. He comes to steal your harvest."  Or put a different way, when your life is full of blessing and it seems you are about to see the fruit of a lot of labor, he will come in to discourage you and steal your joy. She encouraged us to stand firm to protect our joy and our blessings, knowing that they are vulnerable if we do not.

Sammy was baptized almost two weeks ago. Unfortunately with Gabe in the hot tub with him and me wrangling a fussy baby, I didn't get very good video. There's a short clip on facebook that our church posted if you missed it! It was an incredibly joyous day for us. He had put his trust in Christ for salvation at the age of 4, and now there was no dissuading him that he was ready to be obedient to give his life fully to Jesus as Lord in baptism.  We couldn't be more pleased to see him give his heart to Christ. And we both found the job we now have of continuing to discipline our son incredibly sobering.

It was also an adventurous day...since we have a new young student named Jessica at Trinity who rides to church with us, we have to trust the Lord for a vehicle other than our own each week since we don't have an extra seat. That week it was the notorious "Big Blue" a full-size handicap accessible van that Trinity owns for common use. Big Blue has been broken down more than running in the year we've been here. The week prior to Sam's baptism the three mechanic students got together and decided to see if they could replace the fuel pump and get her running again.  They succeeded, and we took her on her maiden voyage to Puyallup. For a man who used to drive a Nissan 350Z and then a Subaru WRX(oddly enough, both blue!), watching Gabe wrangle Big Blue was quite entertaining. Her top speed was about 50 and she got there in.....5-10 minutes. On the way to the baptism after church we started to notice white smoke coming from her. Not so great but figured she would make it. Sure enough, she started up after the baptism. So then I suggested a celebratory trip for frozen yogurt. And the parking lot of the frozen yogurt place was where she died. No amount of tinkering from Gabe or Dan (Trinity's director who came to our rescue) could get her going again, so we got shuttled home in two truckloads. All in a typical Sunday these days!

Since that day, we have definitely been under spiritual attack, though we failed to fully recognize it as such and pray accordingly. We have learned so much this year about the power of prayer and want to thank everyone who reads this who faithfully prays for us! I'm feeling nudged to post prayer requests more often just in case you are the person who God appoints to pray for us, so be on the lookout for that.

The past couple weeks the attacks have come in the form of discouragment and depression for me, and then a bit of a wake up call when we had Sammy's parent-teacher conference this week. We prayed that the Lord would give each of our children the teachers He intended for them this year and use them in their lives. We are amazed at how precisely the Lord answered that prayer. Ciara has a teacher who is thrilled to have a kindergartner with such a high reading level and is doing all she can to keep her challenged. Sam has a teacher who is experienced, energetic, and has high standards of behavior and academics in the classroom. And in just a few weeks, she totally gets him.

Unfortunately, that means she sees that while he is very bright, he doesn't want to work. He is getting D's in math and writing right now. Not because he can't do the work, or because there is anything wrong with the teacher, her methods, the school or their policies. I won't even put much blame on myself as last year's teacher, although I could have pushed him a little harder. The responsibility is his. What's even more concerning to us is that he is also talking a lot in class and not following instructions. As she put it, "He's polite....but then does whatever he wants, not what I've said". We've had this feedback about Sam before. He is also kind, sweet, and compassionate which we are thankful for.

So please pray with us that Lord would change Sam's heart to one of submission to this teacher who may not know the Lord and is in authority over him. Pray also that he will seek a better work ethic and that we can both have patience and be able to motivate him. Pray that we will be the witness Christ wants us to be in this situation.

"...there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted..."  Romans 13:1-2
  
Sobering.

But then God reminded us that He has a plan for Sam. That Sam has a lot of leadership qualities and that He is working out what He needs to in his life right now. If he's going to lead, he needs to learn to follow.

We have to trust that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

A few additional prayer requests:
  • Protection for Gabe and the team from our church heading to Mexico the end of October
  • Protection for me from the spiritual attack that always come to me when Gabe is away
  • Vision and clear direction for Trinity's leaders, staff, and students 

Thank you, and may you be richly blessed!

love, Bonnie
 


 
 




 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A year already?

It's hard to believe we've been here over a year already...and kind of hard to remember what life was like before at the same time. So many things have changed along with the "big change" that I may not be able to put them all into words. But I'll make an attempt.

Mt. Rainier Sunrise....by Sammy

The first thing I think of is, we've spent a year "training to be missionaries", but what does that mean exactly? Have we been street witnessing? (no). Serving the homeless? (once). Going on short-term missions trips? (not yet, but Gabe is heading to Bachiniva, Mexico in October to help build an orphanage with our church; check out the project: Casa de Bendicion). So what have we been doing all year?

Honestly, from the outside, I don't know that our lives look that different than they did before. The changes are more subtle yet significant. For example:

  • We've learned to live on a much lower income with one car, less space and less entertainment. And are a happier family for it.
  • Gabe's been home a lot more than when he was working and we have all enjoyed more time together and a slower pace of life not filled with so many activities.
  • We're actually involved in a church and doing ministry/volunteering rather than just sitting on the sidelines. It's amazing. We have been blessed with some incredible relationships within our church and can definitely see the way we are being discipled there as one of the reasons we were led to WA.
  • We tried homeschooling. I would almost call it an "epic failure" except that with the Lord nothing is wasted. We learned a lot; I learned I have a lot less patience than I thought I did! And I did enjoy some special times with the kids. So far this year we are clearly led to be part of the local public school. The kids are doing great, making friends with kids and adults alike. Their PE teacher is a believer and not shy about it. Pray for us as we seek to minister to the kids and teachers at Eatonville Elementary.
  • We've worked hard on parenting, adding Asher into the mix in March. We are all having to grow and pitch in as a family of five, and it's really cool how we've seen the kids step up and take more responsibilities. We're growing in grace balanced with rules, trying to be more relational as the Father is with us even as we learn to submit to His authority. We are blessed just this week that Sammy has decided he wants to obey the Lord and be baptized! Pictures/video to come after this Sunday.
  • We've also worked harder on our marriage, including a Love&Respect course over the summer. We really learned a lot and are being blessed with more time together as we both grow in our understanding of each other. Or at least I finally learned what "respect your husband" is all about! :-)
  • We are growing in our personal Bible study and prayer time, both individually and as a family. It has been one of those things we put off and were inconsistent with in the past, but now we have discovered it is our lifeblood. As Christ said :“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5 (NKJV)
  • Gabe has gotten a lot of valuable aviation mechanic experience with multiple things broken on multiple aircraft in the last year! Now, praise God, most of the planes are up and working and he is getting more flight time in to prepare for flying in the mission field, wherever that may be!
  • We are continuing to see the Lord's hand at Trinity as He provides labor, materials, new students, volunteer instructors, leadership, fellowship, and community among us. Please pray that we and the leaders and staff will continue to seek His direction as the school grows!
A big question we get asked frequently and have heard since the beginning is "where to next?" And the answer would be "the Lord knows." We don't. He hasn't given us a particular country or area of the world yet, although we both definitely feel called to foreign missions somewhere. We are open to wherever He sends us and whatever organization He will use (or not) to get us there. We really have peace knowing that He knows the next step and we'll get there day by day.

Thank you to everyone who has followed us on this journey so far; your prayers have upheld us and your encouragement means more than we can say!

Blessings,

Bonnie


Friday, September 7, 2012

Why we do it




Repent.

Believe.

Jesus of Galilee was a historic figure. He caused a ruckus. Flavius Josephus, Jewish historian to the Roman Ceasar in the first century, mentioned him by name as a teacher and healer, whose posse continued in his footsteps after he was gone, claiming he had risen from the dead.

This Jesus character is often equated with other teachers in history - Buddha, Mohammed, Gandhi, Confucius - but that’s because some people have no idea what he taught. When you read his teachings (check out John 8:23-24), there’s only 3 conclusions you can come to:

1. He was a lunatic, who actually thought he was God
2. He was a lying con-artist, fooling people into thinking he was special
3. He was the Messiah, the promised God-With-Us

If either of the first two are correct, how can anyone say he was a “good teacher”? He led people to their deaths! If you recall, David Koresh was labelled a madman for the same thing; he was a lunatic con-artist that abused people’s trust while he was alive, and led them to their deaths in a compound in Waco, Texas. Was he a “good teacher”?

Let us examine the message that Jesus preached consistently for 3 years, and determine whether it’s even a “good” teaching.


Hanging out on Mt. Rainier

From Day One of his ministry, Jesus commanded people to “repent” (Matt 4:17). The word “repent” means “to change your mind.” This implies there was something he wanted people to repent from, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” To the man who had been crippled 38 years, whom Jesus had just healed, he said “sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (John 5:14). To the woman caught in adultery (an offence punishable by death), he said “go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).

This concept of sin is everywhere in the Bible, starting in Genesis 3. To “sin” is to depart from the way of God. God is perfect, and perfectly holy. This means he can have nothing to do with our sin - whether or not we think it’s a big deal. You haven’t murdered anyone, you say, so God shouldn’t have anything against you. Don’t miss the concept of “holy”: sacred, set-apart, separate. God is set apart in His perfection. He cannot, by His very nature, have anything to do with sin.

Because of this, we who are not perfect fall short of God’s standard (Rom 3:23). And because of this, we can’t hope to have a relationship with God. In fact, we’re condemned to being separate from God, both now and after we die. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t murdered - that’s not the standard. Perfection is.

Jesus talked about Hell as if it were real. He talked about those who would be cast into outer darkness. He talked about the lake of fire. He talked about judgment and torture. He knew what awaits us, and for this reason he preached “Hell and Damnation” over and over again. Interestingly, he preached it most to those who thought they were okay with God (Matt 23:13). If you are thinking you’re doing alright, think again. 



Repent...


...and Believe.

Believe in what? Believe that if we are good enough, we’ll make it to Heaven? By whose scale of justice is that supposed to work? Believe that there are many ways to Heaven, and a loving God wouldn’t condemn anyone to something as awful as Hell? This loving God died so you wouldn’t have to go to Hell, but you assume you can come up with a better way?

Here’s where Jesus got really wonky. He said you have to believe in him, and only him (John 3:16, John 3:18 ). He said that believing in him involved laying down your own life (ie, your desires, your philosophies, your way of living) and submit wholly to him (Matt 16:25), truly putting your hope and trust in him as your only way back to God’s good graces (John 3:17-18, John 14:6).

As if that weren’t enough, Jesus tells you that you need believe one more thing. That he is God (John 10:25-39, John 14:7-9). This is, in fact, why he was put to death. The Pharisees, who had put Judas up to bringing them Jesus, blatantly asked him if he was the Promised One, the Messiah. Jesus answered in such a fashion that the Pharisees tore their clothing, the sign that God had been blasphemed: He said I AM (Mark 14:60-64). This wasn’t a simple statement of identity as the prophet that Moses told the Israelites to expect. If that were so, the Pharisees would not have torn their clothing. Jesus said he was the I AM, which is how God identified Himself to Moses and the Israelites when He spoke through the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). This was how Jesus got himself condemned to death. To blaspheme God (try to smear Him by, for instance, saying He is less than He is) carried a death sentence by Mosaic law (Leviticus 24:16). And Jesus knew it (Luke 2:46-47).

And so he died. In his final moments, Jesus took on himself the sins of the world, and his perfectly holy Father in Heaven couldn’t have anything to do with him. In anguish, he cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Just before he breathed his last, he said “It is finished” (John 19:30). He had finally finished the work that began immediately after Adam and Eve had separated themselves from God through sin (Genesis 3:14-15). He had bridged the gap between God and humanity.

Three days later, he began showing up to people all over Jerusalem, proving that he had conquered the death that we had earned through our sin (Acts 1:2-3). Those people then went on to torture and death themselves, writing that they considered it a blessing to be counted worthy to suffer as Jesus had!

This is what Jesus said you have to believe, with your whole self, if you want to be united with the perfect God who made you. If you want to find the answer to the riddle of life. If you want to spend eternity enjoying the unspeakable wonders God has prepared for you in Heaven (1 Cor 2:9).

Can you still call him “good teacher”?

* * * *

It is for this, the Good News (referring to the announcement that through Jesus, man can be reconciled to God), that we laid aside our lives and are seeking to add to God’s global fame. We think everyone should know Who God is and what God did to bring man back to Himself.

We are not becoming missionaries to “help people.” Humanitarian aide is a only a part of spreading God’s fame. It’s your soul and theirs that we’re concerned with, that you and they might know and be reconciled to God, and thereby bring Him more glory.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”  -2 Corinthians 4:7


Ciara's first day of Kindergarten.
Sam's first day of Fourth Grade

Trinity Aviation Academy BBQ

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Healing

Wow, the "summer" in WA  is going by fast! The quotation marks represent the fact that we have equal amounts of clouds and sun, sometimes starting the day at 55 and overcast, then bright and sunny and 70 by noon, then back to overcast. Most people I meet who haven't lived here all their lives decry the lack of summer heat, but after 5 years in the Sonoran desert, we are just fine with it! Especially since our apartment has no A/C.

The weather does make it tricky for Gabe to get much flying in though. He and Trinity are blessed to have several airplanes now up and flying and instructors with a heart for the Lord. So we are praying for sunny skies and no major mechanical issues for now, though the latter provide great learning experiences :-).

Right now we are both taking a class at our church called MIT or "Ministers in Training" and really growing a lot from it. Reading a lot of great stuff, including Radical by David Platt and The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, both of which we'd highly recommend! We're also enjoying the wisdom of our pastor and others in the class who have been doing the work of the ministry far longer than us! We are just so blessed to be a part of South Hill Calvary Chapel. It's a better answer to our prayer for a church we could get plugged into serving than we ever hoped for.

But what does all this have to do with the title of this post? Well, as we look back on the last year, and sometimes wonder "what have we really accomplished here?" the Lord patiently reminds of what HE has accomplished in us. One of the most significant things is the physical healing he has given both of us.

James 5:14
"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord
. "

A little background: in the spring of 2011 I was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis, which basically meant my esophagus was so inflamed with white blood cells that I had constant pain, worse with eating. I was on medications for it, but they didn't help a whole lot. By May of 2011, Gabe was hearing the call to missions and I didn't want my illness to hold him back. So I went to the elders of our church in Tucson and asked for prayer. They also offered to anoint me with oil in accordance with the above Scripture. However, the two praying for me were in disagreement; one felt Gabe should give up on the idea of missions and take care of me, while the other saw my illness as a tool of the Enemy to keep us from following the Lord. So I had two prayers for healing but from different views. My friend Debbie also prayed for me on my way out that night, specifically that I would figure out what to eat to help heal me. The next week I saw an allergist who recommended the "Six Food Elimination Diet" in which I gave up dairy, wheat, eggs, nuts, fish and soy. Finding things I could eat on this diet was interesting! I stayed on it for about six weeks, gradually reintroducing the eliminated foods and discovered dairy was the hardest for me to digest. I saw a lot of improvement on the diet, but have to give glory to God for the healing that took place through it. (click on the link above to see a study detailing the effectiveness of this diet).

Then I got pregnant with Asher and had to change my medications and stop taking some of them. But God was good, and I had almost no heartburn through this pregnancy, which was a big change from the previous two! However, three weeks after his birth, the esophageal pain was back with a vengeance. Only now we had no health insurance; mine would end at six weeks postpartum and only covered one of my expensive medications. So once again, in obedience to the Word, I went to the elders of our church and asked for prayer and anointing with oil.

I haven't needed my medications since! I have had almost no digestive issues.The only time I've had stomach pains has been right before a Bible study or the above mentioned class. Seems like more than coincidence to me. As soon as I get home from the class where I hear more from the Lord, the pain is gone. All I can say is, He healed me and it's about time I gave Him glory for it!

Now on to Gabe's experience. For about the last two months, he was having pain in his lower groin area. He had a vasectomy scheduled with the VA in Tacoma and mentioned the pain to them when he went in for surgery. They did an exam and told him he had a hernia and would need additional surgery. For the week following the exam, he was in a significant amount of pain from the hernia. God was faithful and got him an unheard-of quick appointment for an ultrasound at the VA in Seattle for the following Monday. That Sunday he went to the elders and asked for prayer. The next day, neither the ultrasound tech nor the radiologist could find any evidence of a hernia. His pain has been gone ever since! When the nurse practitioner from the VA here in Tacoma called to follow up with him and he told her about the Lord's healing him, she couldn't get off the phone with him fast enough!

If you're like me, you may be reading this with a fair amount of skepticism or think it's just coincidence. That's ok. Jesus will meet you there. I can't answer why He would heal us and not others. All I can say is He loves us and wanted to show His faithfulness in our lives. I could go on and on with all the answered prayers and faithful provisions this year, but I'll stop here for now. Just think though...what He might want to accomplish in your life to show Himself strong?

2 Chronicles 16:9 

"9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him."

 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Missions Dinner

We are having a great time this week with Grandma Koopman (Bonnie's mom) visiting! She's a Seattle native so yesterday we checked out Pike Place Market as well as her old neighborhood on Lake Washington...what a cool house she grew up in and neat to hear her stories.

Sunday night she joined us for our church's Missions Dinner to raise support for our missionaries, and a great time was had by all. They creatively had both a silent auction with lots of donated items and a LIVE auction for things like babysitters, laborers, timeshares, and Gabe donated a FLIGHT in this lovely plane he's working on! Let's hope the lucky winners enjoy it!



We're so blessed to have been led to a church with an increasing focus on missions, both long and short-term. In fact, our friends the Joshuas are stepping out in faith and taking their whole family to Belize for the summer to support a church planted there. You can read more about it on their blog. So excited to see how the Lord uses them and praying for them to have peace and safety on the journey!

And a bit envious....our time will come :-)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Seeking Direction

Isaiah 30:21

New International Version (NIV)
"21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice(A) behind you, saying, “This is the way;(B) walk in it."


 Have you ever noticed the minute you think things are "calm" or you get an unexpected break in your normal busy routine, all sorts of other things you'd been neglecting, whether physical or spiritual pop up to the surface? It's been like that around here lately. Calm-ER with homeschool out for the summer, but lots of other things the Lord has us pondering. Foremost:

1. Do we continue to homeschool for another year or send the kids to our local public elementary school? This is such a huge decision for any parents; how to best educate your children? And I know many parents would never consider not homeschooling, and certainly not public school as an alternative. I myself have never set foot in a public school classroom, and Gabe only through 3rd grade. So we are not considering this lightly. The Lord has spoken a few things to us while praying through this that we'd like to share, and we covet your prayers that we will see His will clearly and obey!

One thing He's encouraged us to remember is that they are His children first, entrusted to us to raise. And they are blessings to us, not burdens!

Psalm 127:4-5

New King James Version (NKJV)
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them

(I think our quiver is full with 3!)



 

His plan for them is bigger than whatever plans we might make. We may want to "protect" them through homeschooling, but He may have plans for them to shine His light in the public school. He may have teachers there who can encourage our kids in ways we can't. He may want to use our family in the community by getting us involved in what is the center of this little town. Or He may simply want us to submit the decision to Him, to confirm that we really are called by Him to homeschooling, not just deciding on our own.

I have to admit, it was a tremendous amount of work for us this year, and challenging to our relationships with the kids, since "school" had always been separate from "parents" for them before. If we do it again, we need to be more led by the Spirit and less in our own strength. And if we send them to public school, there will be spiritual battles waged there daily that we need to cover in prayer. There will also undoubtedly be educational gaps and difficulties with other kids to overcome.

Another thing we are praying about that is related: what ministry does He have specifically for me? I have an idea on this one, but will save that until it's more out of its infancy :-) It would use my professional skills as well as my ministry gifts well, I think. I have no idea where to begin and it would take a lot more time...so again, is my time needed and best used by homeschooling or does God have something else for me and the kids this year? I don't think I could do both, but He may have that for me too!

Then we add to that: should we purchase a second car? We've gotten along fine with one this year, but the backseat is a bit tight for three kids, two in car seats, and it prevents us from being able to drive anyone else to play dates, VBS, etc. And I may need another vehicle for ministry separate from what Gabe is doing. So we're looking at used minivans, but the "right" one hasn't come along yet, if we need one at all.

Just the regular stuff of life, decisions like everyone else has to make...yet since we took this leap of faith, it seems there are no small decisions anymore. We both feel the need to pray everything through now and know that we are Spirit-led before making a decision. It's a crazy way to live, but it's the only way that has brought us peace.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Life, 14 years later

young love :-)

So it's a few days overdue, but I didn't want to let our 14th anniversary go by without sending some love across the blog to the man who asked me to marry him. :-) Wow, what a lot the Lord has done in our lives since that day when two young, naive people made those vows to each other. When questioned about when divorce was "okay" with God, our Lord responded:

Matthew 19:5-6


New King James Version (NKJV)
5" and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?[a] So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.

I know we had no idea the implications of this truth back then. Honestly, had God not been the one who joined us together, we wouldn't have made it past year seven. He has been so good and faithful to us, giving us a second chance even when we tried to break apart what He joined. I am forever thankful to Gabe for having the faith to take that chance with me!

But you see, it isn't just about us or our love story, romantic as it is :-) (we were just 19 and met in Colorado one summer when I was a camp nurse and he was a young Air Force Academy cadet..) or our reunion story, though that's miraculous too. Marriage was created to glorify God, not God to glorify marriage. Just like friendship, siblings, parent-child, and every other relationship was created to reflect God and how He loves us, His children. Marriage was given to us specifically to reflect how Jesus loves His church, the people He died for.

Ephesians 5:31-32

New King James Version (NKJV)
31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[a] 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.


Last night we started a Love&Respect class with some other couples and the leader had us read an article on marriage by John Piper. I was really struck by Piper's point that our marriages are to reflect the glory of God, and the more we look to Him and want to glorify Him in our relationship, the more His love will flow through us to each other. It becomes about Him instead of about us and our need for the other person to fulfill us. So we're certainly not there yet, but it's a good place to be striving towards!


For now though, we are blessed. Happy Anniversary, honey. Can't wait to see where the road ahead leads!



Grill warrior

the challengers


brothers


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Update 5-31-12


Before reading this post...
I can’t believe it’s already June! Ok, that’s officially tomorrow, but for all intents and purposes, it’s June, folks! (Apologies to those whose birthday is today.)

This means our lives began really changing about 1 year ago. For 1 year, we’ve been questioning our mediocre dedication to our Savior, our comfortable pursuit of self-centered faith, and our twisting of Jesus into someone more like us.

You know how it’s hard to see how your kids have grown in a year because you’re around them all the time? It’s not until you look at pictures from last year that you really notice how far they’ve come. It’s kind of like that for me, as I try to measure the change from who I was, to whom God is making me. It feels like I haven’t come very far, until I remember where I was 1 year ago. That, in turn, gives me hope for what God is going to make me 1 year from now.

I told them they'd be a lot cooler if they weren't matched so well.
Trinity Aviation Academy is still in its infancy. All of our aircraft are still grounded for one reason or another, but there is hope on the horizon. There’s a new student here for the flight training, who already has his mechanics license and has been helping me break...er, work on the aircraft. He’s local, which is great because the dorms aren’t built yet. There’s also been another mission-oriented pilot/mechanic volunteering his time to get us off the ground. We should see some fruit from our labors by the middle of June. That would be great, because I’d like to take Bonnie to a fly-in campground on the Oregon Coast for our anniversary.

Moving the drywall out so we can work on more aircraft!
Bonnie and I have just begun a class (grades and everything!) given by our pastor at South Hill Calvary Chapel, called Ministers In Training. It’s about 6 months of reading, praying, writing, and serving. We hope that God will use it to grow us for His purpose.

The first books we’re getting into are A. W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God and David Platt’s Radical. I’m especially convicted when I see myself described by Tozer as one who has been taught that once you’re in (“accepted” Jesus as savior), you’re done. He says, “The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless...Christ may be ‘received’ without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is ‘saved,’ but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little.” Wow, that’s been me. 

How crazy is it that we think God has drawn us to Him, but wants nothing from us? No real relationship, no changes in our comfortable existences, and no pursuit of knowing Him? Paul said “Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him.” (Phil 3:8-9a). That doesn’t sound like “receiving” Jesus as one’s savior is the end game. Oh, how I lack in gaining Christ! 

-Gabe
Eatonville, WA
5/31/12
...Aaand after

Friday, May 11, 2012

...Weeks Later...







...And that is why we haven't been posting much lately!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Asher



Asher
Hebrew - Fortunate, Happy, Blessed

Asher Nathan Ledford was born at 1:00am on March 30th, 2012. He weighed 7lbs 0oz and was 19in long, despite being 11 days past his "due" date.

Those are the facts.

This is his story.

In the Spring of 2011, Bonnie and Gabe were facing life-changing events. We were considering whether God was calling us out of career and comfort, into a life of sacrifice and service. As we prayed over this call, we considered another change that had been running through our minds for several years. Should we have a third child?

We decided to let God decide that. In several books of the Bible, we see that God opens and closes the womb in His own timing and for His purposes. We posed the question to God, and stopped birth control.

Bonnie was pregnant so quickly, she actually believed she had a bladder infection as Asher was implanting in the uterine wall. She felt ill, and had some pain, but it didn't even occur to us that she was already pregnant. God is so good, and the measures she took to cure the "infection" had no effect on embryonic Asher. God has a plan for his life.

Prior to being pregnant, Bonnie had been battling an extremely painful condition called "Eosinophilic Esophagitis," which I think is best described as canker sores on her esophagus. Very little is known about this condition, least of all a cure. Once she became pregnant, the medicines Bonnie was taking to control the pain and possibly cure the condition were in question. Again, God is good. We ran out of one prescription, had no health care coverage for the "good stuff," and still found something that worked, while not harmful to Asher. We continue to cry out to God for healing, believing that He is certainly capable, but weakly wondering if He's willing.

There were all the rollercoaster emotions of pregnancy, yet through it all, we knew we were leaning on God's grace, and operating within His will, so we had peace.

When Bonnie's "due" date rolled around, there was no indication from Asher that he intended to leave the womb. We think a 40-week gestation period is unnecessarily arbitrary, and even the 41-week induction rule is needlessly interfering. However, arbitrary or not, it's hard to ignore the day on your calendar that's been outlined in red for 9 months. Time suddenly slowed, and I think about 3 years passed while we waited...but, God is good, and we trust Him.



Bonnie riding out a contraction like a champ, 10:42pm


Labor
(Those with weaker constitutions are dismissed. Go have some popcorn, your wife can tell you the story and spare the details. Also, the verb tense gets twitchy below, so backseat blog editors are also dismissed ;-))

Ten days overdue, and Asher began to worry our midwife. She would need to begin initiating Operation Eviction if he loafed around any longer. While we questioned "are we still trusting God if we induce today," Bonnie took her midwife's advice and swallowed some castor oil (you know, the stuff that WWI aircraft used in their radial engines), but not until the kids were in bed, the babysitters were on their way, and the car was warmed up. Yeah, we used this stuff before...

Castor oil at 7:30pm, out of the house at 8:15. By 9:30, Bonnie was in mild labor, and her body wasn't showing the typical signs of getting ready for birth: 2cm dilated, cervix aft. To our midwife, this meant we would be there a while. We knew better. 10:00pm, 5.5cm, real labor begins (contractions at this point were effective, but not too intense). 12:35am...here we go. Bonnie gets verbal, and wants to labor in the tub. Bonnie's verbosity is a signal to Gabe to get ready, because he knows his girl.

At this point, the midwife was in the other room, working on her computer. She was listening to Bonnie, but not knowing her previous labors, was still expecting to have to break her water and labor a few hours more.

At 12:50am, we get the midwife's attention. She is concerned about delivering [a large, overdue chubby child] in the tub, so Bonnie is half-dragged to the bed, where she labors for one more contraction on her hands and knees. The midwife requests that she lie on her back so she can be "checked." Bonnie refuses (another signal to Gabe), so Gabe does his own checking. There's Asher's head. One more push, and there's Asher. Done. Instant relief. No issues. And Gabe got to catch.

1:00am. Tadaa!

We were home again by 4am. It was surreal, almost like we had gone shopping for a new pet. Okay, one of us worked really really hard for that pet, and it was the middle of the night, so kind of a weird time to go pet shopping, but you get the picture.
What a trooper!

God is good.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

41 weeks



Waiting....patience....perseverance.....these things don't normally come easily to me. Being born an American with our notorious "can do" attitude and love for instant gratification plus my own Type A personality do not equal patience. It's easy to get caught up in the culture around us and take pride in how much we've accomplished in a day, how quickly we've solved a problem, etc. When I was an RN working in the hospital this was especially true. Labor and Delivery wards are notoriously fast-paced, and I loved it. Birth on speed. Inductions, pitocin, epidurals, emergencies narrowly avoided and the doctor and I came out heroes. Not the mothers. Certainly not the divine Inventor of the whole process.

Strangely enough, the adrenaline high of turning Labor&Delivery into another ER (which I also enjoyed for a time) was not the most satisfying work I've found in my nursing career. What I carry with me as the best moments from that career are not my part in daring rescues of moms and babies from disaster. (Truthfully, my part in those situations was only by the grace God gave me and them, not anything in my own talents or skills.)

What were truly divine moments were the births. The babies who came unexpectedly and slid out into my own hands. The pure magic of their life becoming separate from that of their mother's in perfect harmony and watching them take their first breath. The simplicity of it, and me standing in awe of a process I had simply witnessed and could never have improved on.

Now I sit at 41 weeks and 2 days of my own third pregnancy, or "9 days overdue" if you like. I'm impatient. My family is impatient. My kids are impatient. Well, except for the one yet to be born . :-) He's happily kicking and rolling around, waiting for his moment. In the U.S., it has become pretty standard practice to induce labor at 41 weeks for everyone(not so in other industrialized nations, but that is another topic. I highly recommend "Born in the USA" by Marsden Wagner, MD for voluminious research on why normal birth should be left alone :-) ). I've heard more than one doctor say "nothing good happens after 41 weeks". My previous two kids were induced at 41 weeks; Sam in the hospital, Ciara by castor oil since the midwives I delivered with in Tucson were bound by the doctors' 41 week rule. Both came out pretty quickly, by 6 PM on the day of their inductions. Neither looked "overdue" or at any risk in labor. So why, this time around, am I insane enough to want to wait? My midwife would be glad to accomodate me with natural methods to get labor going, but I can safely stay in her care until 42 weeks(what the research actually shows, not the 41 week "rule"), so there's no rush as long as we're both healthy. And we are.

So, "am I insane not to get induced???" :-) Here's the Scripture my Bible "randomly" fell open to this morning:

Isaiah 66:9

New King James Version (NKJV)
Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the Lord.“Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God.

I love the Lord's sense of humor :-) But seriously, who allowed me to conceive this baby? Who has given me an amazingly healthy pregnancy? Do I have any cause to doubt Him or the process He created for my son to be born in His perfect timing just because American obstetricians get nervous after 41 weeks? Or because I and everyone else are getting impatient? If "fatigue of pregnancy" isn't a valid medical reason for labor induction at 39 or 40 weeks (which I don't personally believe it is), then is it at 41 weeks in a healthy pregnancy? For me, this time, it's not. 

At least for a couple more days. :-)

Some great verses on patience, which I AM thankful for this opportunity to cultivate:

James 1:2-4

New King James Version (NKJV)
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

Isaiah 40:31

New King James Version (NKJV)
31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

I know I am not the only one out there today who the Lord is asking to wait patiently. I think of my friends who are waiting to conceive a child, or have waited for years to see that promise finally fulfilled :-) I think of others, waiting for the child God has put on their heart to adopt, yet not even having a referral or a name yet. I think of those patiently waiting to see if God will give them a husband or wife or if their gift will be singleness. 

All I can say is what He keeps saying to me. "Trust me. I have not forgotten you. There is a purpose for all of this".

One of my favorite worship songs from our church home back in Tucson: "Everlasting God" by Chris Tomlin


Romans 5:3-5

New King James Version (NKJV)
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Check back soon for baby news :-) Be Blessed!
Bonnie



Sunday, March 25, 2012

Obedience


Sam & Gabe after the AWANA Gran Prix, 3/24/2012


“I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist.”

“At least if I expect everything to go wrong, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t.”

Does this sound like you? I know I’ve spoken this way for at least 17 years.  I wasn’t always so negative. My own memory may be incorrect (my brother will tell you it is), but I remember being more of a dreamer as a child. I don’t recall having many negative thoughts. Of course, life was easy back then.

After I left home, things became more difficult, and I spent several years developing my negativity. Almost half my life I’ve been virtually paralyzed because I almost dared not dream, knowing that I’d just have to come back down to earth. I became a detail-oriented perfectionist, so I couldn’t start anything without seeing all the possible failures. A number of disappointments led me to create a defense mechanism: if I started off disappointed, at least I wouldn’t be let down by failure.

This is why Bonnie knew that last summer’s rapid revelation-decision-action process was from God; there was no way I could have overcome my “realism” to make such a huge life change on my own. 

What has changed? I finally made Jesus the Lord of my life. I use the term “Lord” in reference to “whom I chose to obey.”

Face it, we all obey somebody. Most of us obey only ourselves, but we have no idea how to run our own lives because we’re corrupted by our past and completely ignorant of our future. Others follow a teacher, a leader, or a religion. The problem is, those teachers and leaders are also corrupted by their pasts, and ignorant of their futures; and religions are founded by leaders and teachers, and added to or altered by other leaders and teachers.

There’s only One who’s got it all figured out. I’m going to be submitted to someone - either my own imperfect ego, or someone else’s - or I’m going to be submitted to The One. 

-Gabe 3/25/2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Broken

 

Psalm 51:7-9

New International Version (NIV)
 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
   wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
   let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
   and blot out all my iniquity.

Sometimes I wonder if people read this blog and think what I used to think about people in ministry and/or missions. Things like "Oh, they must think they're better than the rest of us...super-Christians...holier-than-thou...wonder what they're trying to atone for?". Why else would we go off and make such a radical life change? Either we want to prove we're better or we're trying to do penance for the life we've lived up until now. Or both.

Honestly, I doubt most readers think that, because you're all nicer people than me! But I'll admit I did. Every time God would gently nudge me into service of some kind, I found it easier to criticize the failings of the people serving in whatever ministry I was trying to avoid than to simply obey. 

What I didn't realize is just how much I was missing.

I'm discovering that service is a gift from God for me even more than for the people He calls me to serve. It humbles you, breaks you open in ways you never expected, and calls on you to minister to others from the very places in your history you hoped never to have to reveal. You know, the skeleton hidden deepest in your closet. The character failing you hoped no one would ever know about. What He's showing me is how He doesn't just use us to minister and serve out of our strengths, i.e. "so and so has a real gift for children's ministry, teaching, leadership, organization" etc., but out of our weaknesses. It's the only way He gets the glory and not us.

So if you have ever felt those little nudgings of the Holy Spirit to step into ministry or service but feel completely inadequate to the call, may I say JUST DO IT ANYWAY! Gabe and I are only here out of our own brokenness. I feel no gift for teaching 2 year olds or homeschooling my own kids, but I am learning a lot about myself and my own selfishness and need for patience in the process!  And every time I am humbled to be allowed to minister to a sister in crisis, it is my own story of shame and redemption that He calls me to share. Never my spiritual superiority. As if I had any.

I think it works like this: the more the Lord reveals to us our total inadequacy and need for a Savior, the less tightly we find ourselves holding on to control of what we think we are called to or too limited to attempt. God specializes in using our limitations for His glory. We just need to be broken and available to Him. It is the only way to show His love to a broken world.

Thoughts from the Apostle Paul on just how this world got so broken and God's plan for fixing it:

 

Romans 5:12, 15-17

 

New Living Translation(NLT)

 12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned......
15 But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. 16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. 17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. 

Basically, once the first man sinned, it became encoded in our DNA and the world was broken. It had to be atoned for by death. God is holy and perfect and just, so He couldn't have sin in His presence. Yet He loved us so much that even though we sinned and broke His perfect creation, He sent the perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ, to atone for that sin. So while not everything that was broken in His creation has been restored, the thing most precious to Him can be; our relationship with Him. We can come to Him in our brokenness and He makes us whole again by His grace. Not by anything we can do, but from His perfect love for us.  Can you  think of any better way to find peace? 

Romans 8:18-22

New Living Translation (NLT) 
The Future Glory
 18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 

Good analogy :-) As I anxiously await the arrival of this little guy we've waited 9 months to meet, I can only imagine the joy we will all know when Christ returns and frees this earth from its curse of death, decay, and brokenness. As a final note, if you are reading this and really aren't sure what this Jesus kool-aid we've drunk is all about or want to ask us more about it, please feel free to comment or send us an email. He's worth knowing. Nothing else really matters.


Love,


Bonnie

A few recent glimpses into life around here :-)

Rainier sunrise
 

child labor aka "chores"

sledding day

"Snow Sam"




Snuggles