Sunday, November 24, 2013

Another Move!

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see....By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents,as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations,whose architect and builder is God." Hebrews 11:1, 8-10

In case you didn't know, we moved two months ago!(okay, yeah, I'm a little behind) Much as we loved living in Eatonville with its small town atmosphere, great schools and teachers, and amazing view of Mt. Rainier, God told us it was time to move on. And like anywhere He has done a work in your life, leaving was hard. We even tried to figure out how to only move halfway...to fulfill our next calling while keeping the kids in school there....but it was not to be. He knows best and we are thankful.

So now we are officially in Tacoma. Our church plant, Veritas Christian Fellowship, is here and it became clear that if we were to continue to grow in the work He has for us as part of this body of believers, we needed to be closer to it, not an hour away. And when God moves you, He always provides. He has given us:

  • a great rental house in a nice neighborhood in North Tacoma, 10-15 min from the church
  • more ministry opportunities than we can handle and blessings and strength to serve in them!
  • being just far enough away from the kids school that they can ride the bus since we don't yet have a second car!
  • opportunities for our kids they didn't have before like theater...stay tuned for pictures of their performance this weekend in Cinderella!
  • grocery stores, library, and post office still within walking distance
  • closer relationships with our church family at Veritas


I think it is safe to say this has been the least stressful of our moves (and we've had a lot of moves!), probably because we knew this time it was the Lord moving us and we were (mostly!) at peace with that. He was so gracious to provide friends to help unpack our kitchen, lend us a truck, move furniture, and just encourage us along the way. The house has come together relatively quickly..it is a lovely 1930s home with hardwood floors, ONE bathroom :), an attic which the younger kids' room is in and fun space to play in, plus a garage with a heated/carpeted bonus room (man room) that has been great for Gabe to unwind and watch movies, play xbox, play guitar in etc. No furniture in the bonus room yet, but air mattresses and folding chairs are okay for now :-)

We are seeing so many parallels to our life now and the eventual foreign mission field that I think it's safe to say Tacoma is our "promised land" for now and we are living like "strangers in a foreign country" here. I recently asked a friend who is serving in Mexico starting an orphanage with her husband how the language is coming and if it feels like home yet. She replied "No...and it never will. But that's ok. Our home is Heaven, and we're just sojourners here with Jesus. It makes me want to be with Him more to not be comfortable here." See what you get hanging out with missionaries? :-) By the way, if you want to follow their adventures, check out their blog. You will find yourself encouraged!

Some of the parallels I've noticed are little things like not having a microwave until last week and having to heat things up on the stove, or the day we had to turn the hot water off until we could get the leaking pipe fixed, or having to get around by walking or biking or borrowed car (I haven't braved the bus yet!) until God provides us with the right second vehicle. Other parallels are bigger...wanting to be poured out for God into the work He has for us here...but then finding ourselves drained without enough time to refill before the next ministry we need to serve in. Loneliness, missing friends and comfort at our old church. Joy at the unity and seeing God work through a few faithful people who love Him here. Exhaustion and discouragement at things just being harder than we thought. Sleep deprivation for Gabe as he has to get up an hour earlier to get to school now and have quiet time with the Lord before he goes. Peace after seeing so many fervent prayers answered directly and quickly. Worry as our living expenses go up while our income has not. Seeing our kids struggle to make the transition to a new school and new city. Smiling at their victories, tears of frustration with them in defeat. Struggling ourselves, looking for comfort and "home"...when that is only to be found with Him. Encouragement when old friends come to visit and new ones grow closer.

I think we are starting to realize....this is just how it's going to be. Profound statement, eh? :) If we are truly followers of Jesus and sharing His love is our passion, then we give it all up and get so much more in return. We are guaranteed difficulty and struggle, more the closer we get to Him. We are also guaranteed that He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory! And He will, and He is.

If you would join with us in prayer, we ask for:

  • wisdom in knowing what ministries we are called to and where to step back and wait on the the Lord
  • energy and strength and anointing for the ministries we are called to
  • better family time, growing together as a family and loving and serving together
  • unity in Veritas Christian fellowship between all of us as we grow together in His work there
  • strength for our marriage...we are good but want to be better!
  • wisdom and encouragement for Gabe as he shares with his classmates daily
  • wisdom and compassion for Bonnie as she is hosting an Excellent Wife Bible study in our home and serving a lot in Childrens ministry
  • a second vehicle...preferably a minivan...in our price range and reliable
Thank you! As a final note, we will be hosting Anya from Ukraine again at Christmas and taking her to Montana to spend the holiday with Bonnie parents, so pray for us to have fruitful time with her and with them! God bless you and make His face shine upon you!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Where did the summer go?

Paradise, Mt. Rainier

September already? I can hardly believe how our summer flew by this year. Today was Sam and Ciara's first day of school(1st and 5th grade, respectively). Seven days ago we told the two Ukranian kids we came to love over the summer до побачення (goodbye) at Seatac airport. So many memories I'll never fit them into one blog post. I will, instead, try to portray what God did in our hearts and home this summer.

When I last blogged about our upcoming orphan hosting adventure, we only knew we were hosting Anya. While preparing and praying for her, God brought a second child to us as well: Tymofiy. I found myself chuckling at the time thinking: "Really, Lord? Two kids added to this family? You know I don't even have our kids' friends over two at a time! I'm not a 'house full of kids' person! But I trust You." I found myself remembering that conversation frequently over the six weeks the kids were here, as they were all piling in and out of our borrowed Durango, following me through stores or taking over the dentists' office. With three kids, people often comment that I have my hands full. With five, two who don't speak English, they ran the other way!

It was crazy, exhausting, beautiful, spiritual, and the hardest ministry we've ever done. And so, so worth it. Let me introduce you to the two precious souls The Lord brought to us.

Anya, age 13


This beautiful girl has captured our hearts.  Her bio from the orphanage said she was shy, but we didn't find that to be true past the first 10 minutes at the airport! She was loving and affectionate with Ciara, Sam, and Asher right from the start with lots of hugs and chocolates. She quickly warmed up to us as well, almost overwhelming us with hugs, calling us Ma and Pa and making herself at home.

She is an artist...she loves to draw, sketch, paint, bead, do origami etc. She loves beauty and creates it in any space. She did amazing braids on Ciara's hair and loved dressing up. She loved to eat, as long as no vegetables were included! She left us a few pounds heavier and was proud of it!  ICE CREAM was her favorite, closely followed by sausage/kielbasa.                                                                                                                                                                  

She loved being outside, riding bikes, swimming, and seemed to come alive surrounded by natural beauty at the ocean and the mountains. When I told her that "God made all this" she wanted to know "then who made God?". We told her as often as we could that He also made her, the best of His creation. That He is crazy about her and has a purpose for her life. We pray this truth sunk into her heart. We do not know if she gave her life to Jesus while she was here, but we pray for the work He is doing in her heart.

As beautiful and amazing as Anya is, things were not always easy between us. She is very emotional and carries wounds we caught only a glimpse of during her time here. She doesn't sleep well at night. She can become physically aggressive in a conflict. She didn't have a lot of self control or maturity when the answer to something she wanted was no. She could be really bossy, something Sam especially didn't appreciate since that's his job in the family! But she had a sweet heart longing to be loved, and we saw her try so so hard to love us and the kids even when they were being difficult towards her. We miss her and the joy and life she added to our home.

Then there was Tymofiy; "Tima", age 10 .


pancakes for lunch!
This boy, in contrast to Anya, was a bit shy for the first week or so and could sleep anywhere, anytime! He was solitary and sensitive, but could be drawn into an intense game of Uno or air hockey and wouldn't want to quit! He loved swimming and bike riding too and being in nature. He would do anything for back scratches! Like Anya, he loved to eat and especially loved helping us cook.

Tima had friends here who had been adopted and loved the time he got to spend with them and their family. He made friends easily with the Slavic families and translators who served us and got several invitations to spend Sunday afternoons with them. He so needs a family and we are praying God will bring him one from his own people and language since he had a much easier time with them. He and Anya got along well and she looked out for him like a big sister.

With us he was challenging...he seemed used to getting his way by pouting and sulking and could carry this on for hours. He craved adult attention but had more difficulty playing with our kids, undoubtedly due in part to the language barrier, though he spoke English better than Anya. So some of it was just maturity level. He could read the Russian Jesus Storybook Bible well during our devotional time, but seemed to have no personal interest in Jesus or the gospel.

гора "hora"; mountain
Tima's last week here he celebrated his 10th birthday and we got to spoil him with breakfast in bed (bacon, eggs, and TOMATOES, his favorite!), an RC monster truck, Pump it Up and pizza. It was sweet to see him get to have a birthday in a family and also how excited Sam and Ciara were to fuss over him since birthdays are a big deal around here.

We miss his silliness and his sense of humor. We miss arm wrestling him. We pray as he grows that he will see the love God has for him and open his heart to his need for Jesus.

In many ways this summer was not unlike a mission trip for our family. We learned to communicate through a language and cultural barrier. We ate a LOT of Russian and Ukranain food at all the churches and picnic we were invited to! We gave more of our energy, time, finances, and love than we thought we had to give. Yet God was faithful to provide and refresh us with what we needed every day. He provided translators and English speaking brothers and sisters to share our load at exactly the time we needed them. He gave us extra love and endurance every time we asked. He bonded us through the adversity and the joy.

At the end of it, we sit back and say "what was that all about?" Was it right to bring these kids out of their life in the orphanages in Ukraine and show them America, only to send them back? Was it right to give them a taste of family and then have to tell them goodbye six weeks later? Did we really do a good thing?

The only answer we have for any of it is the Gospel. These kids, though they have suffered, are not saints. They need Jesus to atone for their sins. He is their only hope, regardless of what else happens to them. We had no other reason for bringing them here than to show and tell them that in every way possible. We planted seeds wherever we could. So now we pray, and we love. And we see what He will do. If He lays it on your heart, will you pray for them too? And if you want to know more about the adventure of hosting orphans from Ukraine for 3 weeks at Christmas, send us a message!


Sunday, July 7, 2013

10 days to go....

In just ten days we will be sharing our home and lives with two kids from Ukraine. One a teenage girl, with whom I have no experience other than as babysitters and that I was one once (a period of my life I'd rather forget....except that was when I surrendered to Jesus :) ). Anya. I know so little about her...what will she be like, how will we communicate, what will her needs be? And she knows even less about us. I just pray that her youth is shielding her from all the fears that plague us adults!

And then through God's amazing work, we also have a 10 year od boy coming. Tymofiy. I am a little less worried about him since I already have a 10 year old boy, although the way he thinks (or doesn't!) is a mystery to me.  Boys don't seem to need to talk as much as eat and play so I'm less worried about the language barrier. But I have no idea of his history or needs either.

Basically I feel completely unprepared and terrified.

I mean, we have beds for them. A few clothes and toothbrushes. Some ideas of things to do and places to. Google translate ready to go. A vehicle generously lent to us by friends. And love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 8a
" If I speak with the tongues of men and angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all  mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast , but do not have love, I gain nothing.....Love never fails".

Okay, well, I don't have the gift of tongues or prophecy and I have very little faith. I struggle with personal sacrifice. Is God saying that's okay?

I think He is. Because what Gabe and I do have for these kids is love. A crazy amount of love. I see it in all the other host families as well. And all we can do is trust that the God who gave us that love will also give Anya and Tymofiy hearts open to receive it.

We covet your prayers though. I mean, really, please pray for us! The enemy is attacking us and causing conflict between us, dark clouds of fear to surround us, illness, babies to be fussy and clingy, weariness, doubt and sadness. We see it and we cry out to Him but are also battling feelings of guilt for not being stronger and "better prepared".

The kids are due to arrive July 17. They have been delayed a few days longer than we originally thought, and selfishly, I am thankful for an extra week to pray and prepare. An added blessing is the VBS our old church is doing this week that will give me and our kids a break from each other :), great spiritual food for them and hopefully good time with The Lord for me. I have a bit of guilt over not volunteering when so many of my brothers and sisters sacrificially are, but I know they will be blessed for it.

Stay tuned for the next bend in the ever winding road.....He is faithful.

John 15:5
" I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."



Monday, June 3, 2013

Where is your mission field?

It's been almost 2 years since we got "the call" to start actually living for Jesus instead of just giving Him lip service while continuing to live for ourselves.. In our case, that meant leaving behind one life and moving across the country to "train to be aviation missionaries".  By now, we anticipated our life/mission field looking something like this:




And I think Gabe has a few dreams like this as well:






But that's not where the Lord has us yet. And it's a little bittersweet. We both imagined ourselves in cross-cultural missions somewhere, using our respective aviation and medical skills to bring the love of Christ to people wherever God sent us. We knew we were inadequate to the task, but trusted God to make up the chasm between the work He has for us and our abilities. And in His amazing love for us, He has.
  
Romans 5:5

 (NKJV)
" 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."



Let me show you the mission field He has us on right now:

Veritas Christian Fellowship, a church plant in the Hilltop district of Tacoma (not what we would call a "good neighborhood"...and one that Jesus died to save every person in). This building was historically the "Truth Temple"....and veritas in Latin means "truth". Way out of our comfort zone, totally blessed to be there. 

Purdy Women's Prison. WAY WAY out of our comfort zone. Same crazy-for-Jesus friends who are called to plant Veritas Christian Fellowship (above) also got saved behind bars themselves and are taking His love back into the prison to share with the "offenders" there.  Only to us they are "ladies" who are precious to our Lord and who need to hear His truth and see His love. Even more blessed every time we are there.

Gabe's mission field 5 days a week: Clover Park Technical College school of aviation maintenance. The Lord is opening doors here for him to build relationships and share the reason for his hope and the truth about Jesus' saving love almost daily. He has no doubt "this is why the Lord put me in this program".


And then there's our own neighborhood of Eatonville, WA.



 As I walk around the streets of our little town daily, I am continually drawn to pray for the people here. God gives me precious opportunities to share with friends here and see Him move in lives far beyond anything I could achieve. He's given us a love for our neighbors for however long He keeps us here.



But most precious of all the mission fields He has brought to us is Anya :-)


We know very little about her beyond this picture. She is a 13 year old girl living in an orphanage in eastern Ukraine. She is shy and quiet, likes animals, crafting, and "yogurts".  We have the incredible blessing of sharing our home with her for 6 weeks this summer starting in July. We are quickly trying to learn some Russian/Ukranian (praise the Lord for Google translate!), clear out space in Ciara's room for her, arrange for a bigger vehicle, and some other details. But mostly, we are awed with the responsibility to transcend language and cultural barriers to show her love, God's pure and amazing love for her, through our home. We want to show her this through how we treat each other, through how we treat our kids. Talk about motivation to get over some of our selfishness and love on each other more! It's only through God's grace that we will be able to, so please pray for us!

The biggest point I want to make in this post is this. We aren't anybody special. We aren't "saints"(except by the grace of God!). We fight and complain and get lazy and selfish like anyone else. I think we hoped that "going to the foreign mission field" would change us into the Christians we hoped to be...or at least make us look more like those people. Instead, God is changing our hearts daily, nudging us out of our comfort zone and closer to Him. In every situation above, we reach out because we see Jesus more clearly as we step out in faith towards Him. And we are so in love with Him that we just want more. I pray the same for you! Look around...He has a mission field right in front of you too.
  
Isaiah 42:6-8, 43:4

 (NKJV)
“I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house."


"Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored,  
And I have loved you"



In His love,

Bonnie

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Do Not Fear

"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

 
"I'm not scared; Daddy's right there!"

This is the third time this week this particular verse has "randomly" been in my Bible reading. And a few others:

"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;......God is in the midst of her she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.  Psalm 46:1-3, 5

"Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You. You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel."Psalm 73:22-24

"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

I think the Lord has something to say to me about FEAR. Maybe He is speaking to you as well.

I feel afraid just to write this post. If I admit that I struggle with fear, then my brave front crumbles. The image of "having it all together" as a wife, mom of 3, and a woman in ministry is cast down. What will people think? What will my husband think? Don't I need to hold him up? What will my children think? Don't they depend on me? What about the people the Lord has given me to serve? What will they think if they know how fearful I am? Nah, I think I better just keep all this to myself and keep the facade in place.

God didn't like that answer.

He tenderly reminded me of the spiritual "valley" He took me through when He first called us to missions and to leave our life in Tucson. I was filled with and nearly overcome by FEAR. I have often heard what I experienced at that time called "a spirit of fear" upon a person. While it is true that there was fear in my spirit, I do not believe it was primarily a spiritual attack. That would make me a victim of an evil force rather than what it really was; grappling with my own sinful flesh. We are all filled with fear. Fear that we will be exposed, found out to be frauds. Fear that our children will misbehave in public. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of losing something we hold dear. Fear of pain. Fear of physical unattractiveness or poor health. Fear of what we cannot control.

A friend of mine recently shared at our Women's Prayer breakfast that she struggles with the sin of fear. I had honestly never thought of it as sin before, but then I realized that's exactly what it is. If sin is acting as if we don't need God, then allowing ourselves to be ruled by fear is the opposite of dependence on Him. When you look at the results of fear, it becomes even clearer. Fear leads us to try to control every situation and other people. Fear leads us to "keep up appearances" rather than being transparent and open. Fear creates stress rather than peace. Fear is closely related to pride, because it says "I have this all under control" rather than humbly admitting we need God to take control.

So what can we do? It is clear from the verses above and many others in Scripture that God does not mean for us to be enslaved to fear. The answer you will see in bold: Him. He is our refuge, He holds our right hand, He never leaves us. We are without excuse for not trusting in Him and for trying to control everything on our own. Yet He is gracious and patient enough to let me come to him 100 times a day saying "I'm scared. Help me. Show me your will and give me the courage to follow You" And He always does.

When I was struggling so hard with leaving our life in Tucson, it was out of FEAR. I had built a comfortable suburban housewife life for myself there and I was terrified of giving up my comforts, my security, and my "right" to determine how much I was willing to offer to the Lord. A few weeks before we left, our pastor Robert Furrow at CC Tucson preached this message:"Give It Up" on 8/14/2011(scroll down to the teaching on 8/14/2011). The Holy Spirit convicted both Gabe and me powerfully through it and I was encouraged to hear it again today and see how faithful God has been to His promises. I realized that I was the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-31. I didn't want to give up the security of "my life" to follow Jesus. But He loved me enough to know exactly what I needed to give up in order to follow Him and enjoy the blessings He had for me. I thought it was for His purpose of reaching the world with the Gospel, but it was also for my good!

I still struggle with fear though.

Recently it has been fear of:
  • Prison Ministry at a local women's prison; yet we stepped out in faith and were so blessed!
  • Performance anxiety in children's ministry to kindergartners at church
  • An outreach the Lord asked us to do through a neighborhood Easter egg hunt at which we shared the Gospel; again, we were totally blessed!
  • Closer personal relationships with other believers; "discipleship" and the transparency it entails
  • Facing a challenging time in our marriage
  • Having to lovingly speak uncomfortable truth to fellow believers
 I pray this has encouraged you in your walk with our Lord Jesus. While He felt fear in His time on earth, He is our example in taking those feelings to His Father and absolutely trusting in Him.

Family News:
  • Gabe started Aircraft Mechanic School at Clover Park Technical College on 4/1/2013 and is really enjoying it and finding lots of ministry opportunities. Post coming soon from him on that! Our prayers about transportation were answered and he is riding to and from school every day with another student from Eatonville. Praise God for Ryan!
  •  Bonnie recently got to attend a friend's home birth to be with her two older daughters and enjoyed a beautiful time :-)
  • Sammy brought home straight A's this trimester and is growing in respect for his teacher and in being a friend. He is also faithfully following our church's "read through the Bible in a year" plan and we are seeing fruit of God's Word in his life!
  • Ciara continues to amaze us with her intellect; she is reading the Little House on the Prairie series right now at the age of 5! She also recently got her training wheels off :-)
  • Asher celebrated turning 1 on 3/31/2013 and is eating big people food, cruising all over the house, up and down the stairs, and will be walking soon! He brings joy to our whole family.
A final word:  
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us" I John 4:18-19


love, Bonnie

Monday, February 25, 2013

And the Answer Is...

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  -Jeremiah 29:11-13*


*****UPDATE - See bottom of post*****

I posted this prayer request on Treasure in Earthen Vessels on January 21: "Direction: That we might discern the next step the Lord has for us. Do we continue in aviation? If so, where?" It's a question we've been asking the Lord since we broke away from Trinity Aviation Academy (TAA) last December.

To those of you who have been praying, thank you. We have heard the Lord's answer.

A few months ago, a friend encouraged me to pray about whether to attend a local state school, Clover Park Technical College, for my Airframe & Powerplant certification. The school has a good reputation, and was attended by not only this friend, but also by an instructor at TAA, and the director of TAA himself (to whom I was apprenticed for over a year). 

I promptly forgot about it.

A few weeks ago, my friend again encouraged me to look into Clover Park. This coincided with Bonnie's and my changed prayer to the Lord. Overriding the question "Where do we complete this education?", we began to ask, "Where do we look to be planted in a local church body?" 



How often do we Christians ask that question when we are looking at a major change in life? What importance do we actually place on being rooted in God's house? We are already planted in a good church, as Bonnie has related to you in the past. If God wanted us to uproot from that, we wanted a sure sign that the direction was from Him.

Two weeks ago, I attended a tour/orientation of Clover Park's aviation maintenance program. The program is solid, and the instructors are enthusiastic. Only problem is: there's a waiting list. The target date to get into the program was Fall, 2015.

After the tour, I sat in the parking lot and prayed. I was discouraged. I had hoped that my experience over the last year might equip me to slip into the program during the Summer quarter, taking the last few courses first, and then start in the Fall with the rest of the new guys. I was told the classes were too full - they couldn't possibly take me in the middle of the program. I realized I would need to wait on the Lord all summer, and take my chances for an opening during registration like everybody else. 

I was about to scrap my plan to meet the admission folks that evening, and just drive home.  But, I had no peace with that decision, so I turned around. On my way, my friend called and informed me that the program actually starts twice a year, Spring and Fall. The registration for Spring was in 1 week. Somewhere along the drive, the Lord renewed my hope in Him, and I thought, "What a perfect opportunity for the Lord to communicate His will to us! What's a waiting list to Him, but a chance to defy the odds and bring glory to Himself?"

By the time I arrived at the college's Admissions department, the target date had moved! To the Spring of 2016…

Admission to the college went smoothly, thanks to a wonderfully pleasant lady in the department, and I went home still encouraged, determined that my hope would rest in the Lord.

.
.
.

As of Friday last week, I am a student of the 2-year-long Clover Park Aviation Maintenance program and will (God willing) start attending classes on April 1st. If the Lord wills, the classes will be completely paid by the GI Bill for the duration. Also as He wills, we will remain planted in our church body, growing in the Lord, being equipped, and serving His people. Praise God!

What's a little thing like a 3-year waiting list to the Lord? 

-Gabe, 2-24-13

*****UPDATE, 2-28-13*****

The Lord has provided, again. Gabe's application for the Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits was accepted (for 100% of the benefit), and will cover all tuition, provide a stipend for books, and pay a housing allowance. Praise God!



*When I began this post, I was thinking about what verse best applied to the topic at hand. The first verse that came to mind was Jeremiah 29:11, and the thought was immediately followed by "Nah, maybe that one's overused…". Then I arrived at BibleGateway.com, the site I prefer for the Bible quotes I use in this blog. Whaddya' know, the Verse of the Day today is Jeremiah 29:11-13. Ok, Lord, I hear you.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Close Quarters and the Best Homemade Yogurt

It's been about 6 weeks since the Lord confirmed on Gabe's heart that it was time for him to leave Trinity Aviation Academy and seek what other direction He has for us...currently as missionaries and in our future training. It's been a hard transition. We find ourselves looking back a lot, wondering what we could have done differently, why it went the way it went, nursing wounds, praying, feeling like failures, missing being part of the "family" there in the same way we were. I received this verse (no surprise!) not long ago:

Philippians 3:12-14
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I picture Paul writing this with compassion to the church in Phillippi, letting them know "It's so easy to have regrets and look back and over analyze things, but don't! God has so much more in store for you!" All I can say is He is faithful. He tells us to trust Him and keep going, so we are.

By far the most challenging part of all this has been the sudden increase in "family togetherness". Specifically, Gabe being home 24/7 all of a sudden and me getting rather territorial about "my space". You know the stories of when a man retires and is home all the time and his wife of 30+ years has to get a job to get out of the house! Or when you're on family vacation and you spend so much time together that you start to drive each other crazy.  Maybe it's a partner home because of illness, injury, or job loss. Your routine is interrupted, your "normal" is off, and you can't wait for that person or circumstance who seems to have disrupted it to go back to work or wherever so you can "get back to normal".

So around here, that has looked like Gabe being the incredibly helpful husband that he is doing all he can to serve me. The dude does laundry, dishes, diapers, homework, you name it. He's a servant. Every busy mom's dream come true! And instead of feeling thankful, I keep feeling...useless...insignificant....jealous even. Like "hey, that was my job, I may not have done the best at it, but it was mine!". Pathetic, I know. The most telling example of this in the last few weeks has been Making Yogurt.

A few months back a friend of mine taught me how to make homemade yogurt. Her/My method goes as follows:

Take 1/2 gal whole milk, preferably organic, and bring it to a scald(just starting to steam and bubble), whisking occasionally. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 5-10 min or so. Whisk in 3 tbsp plain yogurt from a previous batch or store bought organic plain yogurt with no gelatin/fillers in it. Cover and place on a heating pad on low for 12-24 hours depending on how tart you like it. Remove from heat, stir, and refrigerate.
  
Amazingly, this really works! You get yogurt that is a little runny, but really good. Gabe eats it every day for breakfast. So, one day we are almost out if it, and he doesn't want to bother me with asking how to make it and having me "supervise" (I can't blame him for this!). He Googles it instead.

The next thing I know there is yogurt being made by Gabe's Method:

Set up a double boiler. Put 1/2 gal whole milk into pot over pot of simmering water and heat to 185 F on a candy thermometer. Hold at a simmer at 185 for 30 min whisking occasionally. After 30 min, remove from heat and cool to 110 F before adding 3 tbsp whole milk yogurt for starter. May use an ice bath to cool more quickly as it takes approx 30 min to cool to 110. Cover and set on heating pad on medium for 1-2 hours and then low for 6-12.(I may not have this quite right but this is my best understanding of it...not good with details)

Needless to say, this is a bit more complicated than my method. So I got quite territorial about it and gave my poor husband a relentless hard time about taking a process I had already figured out and having to improve/perfect it. You see, my personality is one of "get it done" and Gabe's is "get it done right". Anyone who has ever had a steak grilled for you by my husband or his amazing Pad Thai can attest to the fact that his cooking is...perfection. Mine is a bit more crazy and adventurous, but it feeds us 3 meals a day.

The end of the story is...Gabe's yogurt is way better than mine! His is thick and creamy, almost Greek yogurt consistency. So we are now doing it the better way unless I am really in a time crunch and then I may go back to the simplified method. Although I have convinced him to dispense with the double boiler :-)

What the Lord has taught me through this is that whenever I really think someone else is the problem, or a certain circumstance is the problem, to look back at myself and see if maybe I'm not a big part of my own problem. He is LORD, also known as I AM and JEHOVAH which means, He was there in my past, is already in my future, and is completely present in my present and is in control of all the circumstances that seem so messed up to me. He is teaching me through them if I allow Him to.

Now that I have some perspective, I can laugh about "the infamous yogurt making incident" and let Him turn my frustration to thankfulness. I am truly thankful for the time we have together as a family. I am thankful that Asher gets his Daddy around so much to enjoy all his baby moments. I am thankful that Sam has a Dad who has time to volunteer in his classroom and go on field trips with him. I am thankful Ciara has a Dad with time to play with her in the morning before she goes to kindergarten. I am thankful he and I have time to talk, eat lunch together, pray together and just hang out. I love the man God has given me so much, and I know there will come a day when I really am thankful for every minute.

And just so you know, he isn't here making gourmet organic yogurt all the time. He's been volunteering in Sam's class quite a bit as well as at a couple different food banks run by local churches. I think there is some street visitation in Tacoma coming soon too. He's researching and praying through different options for our future while trying to be available and present for God to use him now. He's considered going back to work but since we are blessed with provision for right now, there's no rush on that.  It's amazing to see the heart God is giving him for people. 



May you be blessed in whatever your circumstances are today!

 

 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

There's always another bend in the road...



When I was around 12 or 13, I loved "Anne of Green Gables", both the books by L.M. Montgomery and the movies. I loved how Anne had such a big heart, a longing to be loved, and was forever getting herself into trouble with her spontaneity. She loved big, trusted big, messed up big, sought and found forgiveness and bounced back from her mistakes. Much like my oldest son Sammy :-) One of my favorite quotes from her character is "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it. Well, with no mistakes in it yet!" During my preteen years I studiously avoided mistakes, feeling that I had to always be perfect, or at least give that appearance. I still struggle with this (pride is the best name I have for it), but God is so good to give me a forgiving husband and adventurous children who remind me that unless you allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them, you miss the adventure! And, that the more we really trust the Lord and follow His plans for us, the fewer "mistakes" there are. Often our choices can look like foolish mistakes in the world's eyes, but if our eyes are on Him, then we can trust that He has us on the right path.

The Lord has grown us all so much this year. It's hard to condense it down into one end-of-year blog post. Very little of it has been in the ways we would have expected. It has come through surprising friendships, unexpected hurts, humbling mistakes, and moments of pure joy. We are beginning to truly fall in love with Jesus and allow that to just spill out into being able to love others more freely. We thought we were coming to Eatonville, WA to "learn to be missionaries" but God has brought it about in such a beautifully personal way that is far better than any formal discipleship school we could have imagined. Much of it has come through our amazing family of believers at South Hill Calvary Chapel, but also through our wonderful friends at Trinity Aviation Academy.

Phillipians 1:3-7
New King James Version (NKJV)
"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,  for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,  being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;  just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace."

The Ledfords
We've been struck this year by how much of the Bible is about relationships...really ALL of it is about relationships. It begins with God's relationship within Himself of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in perfect communion and love...then His relationship with man made in His image, how man broke that relationship through sin and then how our loving God has sought throughout history to restore His people to Himself, even though we, not He, were the ones who broke the relationship. It ultimately cost Him the life of Jesus, his perfect Son, as a sacrifice to cover our sin and bring us back into a relationship with Him. We are very, very important to God and therefore should be very important to each other as well! He has taught us a lot about being authentic in relationships this year as we seek to know His nature better.

This Christmas we were blessed with the opportunity to spend time working on our relationships with family and friends, with a visit from my sister, Caroline, and her husband, Dave; followed by our visit to the Ledfords in Grand Rapids. It was wonderful to first open our home, and then to be welcomed into the home of Gabe's brother, Paul, his wife, Tammy, and their five children. Then, on New Year's Eve, we topped off the visit by spending the evening with our crazy friends, Scott and Christine (Christine has been Gabe's friend from childhood). They are always so welcoming, and really know how to have fun!

There are changes on the horizon for us and how He would have us fulfill our calling. For now, we are still called to foreign missions, and still through aviation - including Gabe completing his A&P certificate and commercial pilot's license to better be able to serve the Lord using an airplane (or helicopter?) as a tool. It seems the Lord is changing our direction, however, about where Gabe receives his aviation training from. We feel led away from our dear friends at Trinity and on to somewhere else, not sure yet where it will be, but probably not until summer/fall of 2013. So we ask for your prayers through the transition as we seek where God would use us in the next 6 months in Washington (possibly a summer mission trip?), and where He would have us continue Gabe's training in the fall. It has been a difficult decision, but one covered in prayer in which the Lord has been so faithful to speak to us, send others to minister to our hearts, and preserve our relationships through difficulty. The road to "becoming aviation missionaries" seems longer than ever before, but we trust that God knows exactly what He's doing(duh) and we are seeking to have joy every day in being in His will for this moment. Thank you for all your love and prayers this year and may you all be blessed as you seek a closer relationship with our Lord Jesus!

In His Love,

Bonnie


Here are some recent photos of the family:

Ciara's Ballet Recital



Looks like the Wii is being held hostage again...

"Reading" his Christmas gift


Ol' Man Winter visits Eatonville occasionally


Spending Thanksgiving weekend with friends
Darth Dave has the young padawan on the run

"Sledding" in Michigan


Ciara's Werewolf Phase?