Friday, December 4, 2015

Still Waiting

Hurry up…Now, wait!

I shop like a typical guy. I know what I want; I research the best price versus location or shipping time; I plan the shopping trip; I drive to the store, walk in, get what I need, and check out. Research and planning takes an agonizing amount of time, while the actual shopping is done at a speed that can lead to a trip to the chiropractor if I'm not careful.

While we were in prayer for months, asking the Lord to show us what to do after I graduated from tech school, it took us about 1 week to decide to move from Tacoma, Washington, to Tucson, Arizona. Decision time from confirmation of the Lord's was about 30 minutes. 

Purchases made this week: 1 possible and 1 definite return
I'm also the fastest person on the planet to experience "buyer's remorse". I usually encounter the first onset while in the checkout line. While making the financial transaction, I'm asking the cashier about their return policy. On the way to the car, I'm asking myself when I will next be in this neck of the woods, and whether I should just take it back now. At home, I open the package as carefully as possible, memorizing the complex packing method I will need to get it all back inside. If I keep the product, I don't take the protective plastic off for about 3 years, nor do I dispose of the original box, receipt, or even shopping bag. I'm not exaggerating, just ask Bonnie.

So, you can imagine how I'm feeling right now, 5 months into our latest change. We hadn't even left the state yet when I began to feel discouraged. Yes, I still believe the Lord directed our paths here, both by closing doors in Washington and by confirming our prayers about the open doors in Tucson. The folks I work with couldn't be better. The job I'm doing supports missionaries and native pastors who are the hands and feet of Christ. I can't logically or physically explain the darkness I've experienced since making that decision, but I haven't experienced much joy in this step of obedience.

I've begun to have dreams about flying helicopters. Bonnie is itching to have a clue as to how we should prepare for field work, or whatever else God has us doing next. And, yet, I'm feeling no nudge in any direction that I can identify as from the Lord. 

There's a part of me that urgently wants to try to return to my old law enforcement job here, but I've examined the motives for that, and it has mostly to do with money. There is an apparent security in money that God warns us to avoid, and if he's asking me to represent him in the government, it won't be driven by the salary.

Then there's the boredom. Nothing "trips my trigger," as a co-worker would say, like flying a helicopter. Or, perhaps, mountain biking. I have had to give up both; it's been several years since I've flown, and months since I could ride my bike (doctor's recommendation for an injured SI joint). The pace of my last job was stressful enough exhaust my taste for adventure. The ennui of our current situation seems to smother it. 

Isaiah 40:30 - 31 says, "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, 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 am weary, and feeling faint. Please, Lord, help me to wait on you.

Here's an old picture of Asher to lighten the mood

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Answered prayer!

God is good! We have temporary approval from ACCHS for Anya's medical insurance through the state. We have to "provide additional proof of citizenship" by the end of the year. As if a U.S. birth certificate isn't enough! I guess they didn't want to go to court, and God has made a way. Hoping I have her card and number before I have to refill her prescription this month. It could have been a lengthy battle, but "His mercy endures forever!"

We've had a good weekend. Worked hard at the Faith Christian Academy rummage sale starting at 6 am on Saturday(and ALL the kids got up and came with us)! It was great to see them learning to serve and be part of the community. Today we were blessed with worship and fellowship at Enchanted Hilłs Baptist Church. And tonight is the parents' favorite night of the week - AWANA NIGHT! For all four kids ;) 

Please pray for Gabe this week as he is traveling back to Kent, WA, for a few days to testify at a classmate's court hearing. Pray he has clarity of speech and is able to minister to his friend and his family. It is such a joy to see how God is still using him in the lives of his classmates. And pray for me to be loving and patient with the kids....seriously, I need the Holy Spirit for that. Not because they are bad kids, but because I tend to fly off the handle too easily. Again,  "His mercy endures forever!"

Monday, September 21, 2015

We're here, now what?

We arrived back in Tucson just under two months ago and I'm just now taking a breath long enough to put down some initial reflections. Bear with my rambling:)

It's been a difficult but blessed transition. Difficult for a lot of reasons, some of which are "common to man" and some of which we believe are spiritual in nature. Thát is, we are trying to be faithful to God's call on our lives, and that comes at a cost. It did for Jesus, so it will for us. As Elisabeth Elliot puts it "All those who seek to follow Christ must have a personal encounter with the Cross". Here are a few of our struggles which you can be praying for us in, and the amazing golden thread of His love and faithfulness woven through it all.

Out with the old....

Some fun at the beach along the way...

And into the new! (Doesn't my husband have some sweet photography skills?) this is the sunset from our new backyard.

We are settling into a new area of Tucson for us. This is actually the fourth house we've lived in since we first moved here ten years ago! We started in the northwest part of town, then central, then bought a house on the east side (which we still own but has renters in it), and now are renting our latest place on the west side. We were kind of hoping to move back into the house we already own on the east side, but the timing didn't work out and it was totally God! We are less than ten minutes from Gabe's ministry work with UIM Aviation and have found a wonderful little Christian middle school for Sam on this side of town, Faith Christian Academy. Anya and Ciara (and Asher!) are being home schooled, which is a stretching and growing experience for us all. Had we followed our desires and moved back into the east side house, Gabe would have a 40 minute commute every day, as he's had for the last two years, and all the kids would probably be in public school, since the schools are better in that district. But here we are, where God has placed us, glad we didn't rush ahead of what He had planned.

There are still some big questions, and we're getting the sneaking suspicion that the further we go with the Lord, the less He lets us in on all the details of His plan. It would seem that if we have all the details figured out, then we should be concerned that we are following our ideas. not His! But we are still human and its not so easy to "go with the flow" when we'd like to be able to plan the next step a little. And God wants us to be practical and make plans, but to be attuned to His direction and ready to change course if He asks, or right now, to "wait on Him."

Isaiah 40:27-31New International Version (NIV)

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Big Questions:

1. Should we be applying for long-term missionary service with UIMA, the organization that Gabe is currently volunteering with? It is a big commitment, and just the application process is extensive. Followed by travel, much support raising, language school, and submission to a larger organization than the branch here. He is really enjoying the guys who are mentoring him there, both as a mechanic and spiritually. But we don't yet have peace or a clear vision of God leading us to serve long-term with them either here in Tucson or in Mexico. They do a lot of good work…and really want to expand into using helicopters in reaching remote tribal villages…and yet what we are hearing from God is wait. So we are are waiting. Pray for both us and the wonderful people at UIMA who would like to know our direction!

2. Where is our church home? If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know this has been a tough one for us the last two years. We really want to plug in and serve and be part of Christ's body in a local church….yet finding the right local church is not so easy. We tried where we were four years ago and its not a fit. We've spent about a month at two others, and neither of those are right either. Along the way we've been blessed with worship, communion, good Bible teaching, good Sunday school, youth groups, and Awana for the kids. Not to mention encouragement from brothers and sisters. But again, we want the Lord to decide where to plant us, not just to pick one because we are tired of looking. We also don't want to be "picky" if He is directing us somewhere! So this Sunday we tried #3 and will see if that is maybe where He has us. The waiting is hard.

Little Stuff:

1. Health Insurance: all of us but Anya have been approved for AZ state health insurance for poor people :-) . Anya has been denied because they overlooked the fact that she has a United States birth certificate and only focused on the fact that she was born in Ukraine. She is in fact a full citizen through adoption by American parents, but AZ states she is not through low level bureaucratic misunderstanding. We may have to go to court to prove this to a judge and get her health insurance. We have plenty of documentation, but its a matter of proving it to the government. And meanwhile she takes medication that is expensive that we are paying for out of pocket. Please pray this will be resolved quickly and justly. Thank God that she doesn't have any major health issues! Also, Sammy broke his "spare" pair of glasses, so please pray we can find an optometrist for him to see soon(who takes the state insurance) to replace them.

2. The Minivan: Gabe has been working incredibly hard trying to keep our old Honda Odyssey running and maintained and keeps running into issue after issue. Please pray for wisdom for him in getting all the leaks and squeaks fixed!

3. Stress: yeah, we are stressed. It's been a lot of change and we are only seeing a small piece of the Gods plan in moving us back here. Homeschooling is stressful and time consuming for me and I struggle to have patience with all the kids, but especially Anya. She has had a poor education until now and has never "tried" in school before. She is trying though, and I have to just focus on the small daily victories, not the "she's 15 and doing first to third grade work!" Ciara is very bright and quick, and I am trying to keep her engaged while slowing down for Anya. Not so easy! Sam is doing great in school, but he still has his days of strong will and conflict with us. Gabe and I have had more conflict as we are more stressed. We are working and praying through it, taking time to relax even when we feel we don't have it, and trying to TRUST.


A wonderful blessing has come into our lives in the form a of a new ministry opportunity with Tucson Refugee Ministry. They are a Christian ministry that works with local refugee relocation agencies to provide volunteers from the local churches who can serve and befriend local refugees and be the fragrance of Christ to them. Gabe has already volunteered moving furniture and fixing bikes while also teaching a refugee who spoke no English how to fix them with him! I am hoping for a ministry to the many pregnant mamas arriving in Tucson scared and alone, possibly a support group, not sure yet. I have been praying for an opportunity to use my labor&delivery nurse skills in ministry for several years now so I am excited to see what God is doing! We are also hoping to befriend some of these families and welcome them into our home and let the kids play with their kids, etc. Stay tuned!

Thank you for all your love and prayers and support. We serve a mighty God who is our strength and refuge.

Waiting on Him,

Gabe and Bonnie

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Change of Plans

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." -James 4:13-15 NIV

Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." -Mat 8:20 NIV

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. -Isa 55:8-9 NIV

The more we think we understand God and His way, the more He reveals to us that we're absolutely unable to fathom his depths.

I don't have any way to explain the turn of events that is before us, except to say, "if it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

Two months ago, we described with excitement the open door before us, with a job opportunity that enabled Gabe to get necessary training for the mission field. Since most mission organizations require their fixed-wing pilots to have 1- or 2-years of experience, it was a blessing to get that experience while being paid.

Meanwhile, we were anticipating moving from our current rental to another, hopefully closer to Gabe's job (it takes 1.5 hours for him to get home in normal evening traffic), and hopefully opening us up to new ways to use the gifts we've been given to build up Christ's church.

Bonnie had felt a tug on her heart to return to Tucson, since the beginning of the year. With Gabe's schooling coming to an end, that was the direction we planned to take unless the Lord changed it. When the job opportunity was offered, we understood in our prayers, certain circumstances, and in waiting on the Lord that this was what He had for us.

However, when specific answers to prayer make you reconsider, you should probably do so seriously. Our house in Tucson coming available 5 months early was such an answer, when the renters there invoked the military clause to end the lease. Then, some other things began to line up in a way that excited Gabe; but, he's used to setting aside his dreams to stick with "the plan."

Finally, some calls to and from UIM Aviation in Tucson confirmed a growing thought in Gabe's heart, and the certainty in Bonnie's, and we are pulling a U-Turn and heading back to Tucson. That is, if the Lord wills…
Crazy? Probably.

If I knew for sure what God's plan was, or why He does certain things, I'd have no need of faith. But He tells us in His word, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Heb 11:6 NIV). And we know that faith is believing His promises. He promises to never leave us, never forget about us. Jesus promises that his sheep know his voice, and follow him when they hear it.

So we step forward in the direction we feel led, and allow Him to make any changes He desires, and I think that pleases Him.

I have one desire now - to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy into it. 
-Ed McCully, martyred in Ecuador Jan 8, 1956

We will miss so much here in Washington. Friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, Mt. Rainier, the color green…it's been a wonderful, wonder-filled season. But it's not home. Neither is Tucson. In fact, we haven't ever been in a place we can call home anymore.

We long for our home, and we love the land of our sojourn.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mommy Failure and Matthew 18

I had such great plans for today.

Asher and I were headed to University Place, the next town over, for a slightly indulgent shopping trip to Trader Joes and to check out the the preschool story time at the amazing library over there. Two of the kids were off to school, the third waiting for the bus. I went to grab the jogging stroller for my morning walk with little dude, and Oh. No.

The sliding door to the minivan was open. Left open all night, probably by me. The battery was dead. So much for my great plans. (fail)

My husband, in his brilliance, purchased an idiot-proof battery charger and showed me how to use it.(this isn't the first time this has happened). So I hooked it up, but the battery was low enough it would take a couple hours to charge. Oh well. (succeed)

Asher rolls with the punches, so we found a project and started purging toys and extra junk for the church yard sale on Saturday. Of course every toy found in the attic became "I YIKE DIS!" and had to be stealthily hidden in the back of the minivan. I also found a lot of messes, like a toddler potty with pee still in it and my wrapping paper all torn up for little girl craft projects. Sigh (fail). But eventually we made headway. I still needed a few things from the grocery store, so I hopped on my bike and put him in the trailer. I made it both ways without even breathing too hard pulling about 60 lbs of kid and groceries. (score!)

And now I have a lot of things I should be doing like folding laundry and working on tonight's dinner, but I need to get this out. So here it is.

I feel like a failure as a mom. Every day. I fail to meet my own expectations and my kids also fail to meet my expectations. None of us comes close to the holiness and joy and freedom that I know is ours in the gospel. What is the deal?

I  mentally go through my days something like this: Kid 1 is getting A's and B's (win!). Kid 1 is also copping a really disrespectful attitude and spending computer time in which they are supposed to be typing up an English assignment looking for unrelated photos on google instead (lose). Kid 2 is affectionate, sweet, and happy (win!). Kid 2 is also satisfied with D's or failing grades in school and blames everything on someone else.(lose). Kid 3 is creative and writing all kinds of stories and plays, illustrated beautifully (win!). Kid 3 is also completely overwhelmed, crying, and defiant at the prospect of one page of math homework and two chores to be accomplished in less than an hour (lose). Kid 4 is charming and playful and cuddly and potty trained and naps well (win!). Kid 4 is completely wild, destructive, and rude out of no where to random people and to me (lose).

And then there's the way I grade myself. Made yummy dinner from scratch (win!). Gained six pounds in the last 4 months (lose).  Accomplished grocery shopping in record time and picked up things Gabe needs for work and stuff kids need for school on sale! (win!) Look around at my messy overly cluttered house and multiple projects collecting dust (lose). Spend time with a friend getting to talk, pray and encourage each other (super win!). Get a little gossipy and don't repent til a few days later (lose.)

You get the picture. Looked at through my human perspective, its pretty discouraging.

But how does GOD see me? How does HE see my kids and all our success and failure?

"Then Peter came to Him and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21-22

"And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, 'The LORD, the LORD GOD, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and sin, by no means clearing the guilty…" Exodus 34 6:7a

"As a father (mother) pities his (her) children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." Psalm 103:13-14

I think God isn't like me. At All.

He has GRACE for my failures. He lets me feel the sting of the consequences, but He doesn't reject me  over them. He loves me. He suffers alongside me. He forgives me again and again, every time I repent. If i choose not to repent, I feel the pain of a strained relationship with Him, because my sin and pride is separating us. But not because He's stopped loving me or rejected me.

I don't parent this way. But I want to. I need to.

I heard a sermon not long ago in which the pastor was speaking at a pastors' conference on the topic of how to recover when you've failed miserably in a ministry. He was speaking candidly from personal experience. I could relate to a lot of what he said. Especially this quote: "Every problem in my ministry is a problem of my own heart."

Oh, I so resist admitting that. If only this kid would straighten up or that one would lighten up or things would just be easier in this situation..then it would be okay. But no, that's not how it works.

God's heart towards me doesn't change based on my performance. He loves me the same when I "win" and then when I get prideful and "lose". He loves most of all when I seek Him and forget about all that performance stuff for a minute and just soak in His love and grace and let that drive me, rather than my own selfish pride. And He is patient with my immaturity. He doesn't withhold love because I frustrate Him. He doesn't change. He parents me through circumstances in my life and wisdom from His word and others. But His love is a constant.

In 2 Samuel 14, David misses this in his relationship with his son Absalom. Absalom murders his brother Amnon after Amnon rapes his half sister Tamar. And David doesn't discipline Amnon, so Absalom takes vengeance. And is banished. A wise woman comes to David and says this: "Yet God does not take away a life, but He devises means so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him." David allows Absalom to come back to his hometown but doesn't speak to him for two more years. Absalom eventually tries to take this fathers kingdom in a coup and ends up dead. A tragic ending to a story in which David fails to teach his sons in the first place and then show grace for his failure.

I want a different end to my story. I don't know how to begin except with prayer.

"Father, forgive me for my hardness of heart towards my children. Forgive me for not accepting your grace in my own life and then passing that performance-driven ideology on to them. Help me. Help me to forgive as you do, again and again. Help me to love them regardless of their behavior, while gently and firmly correcting the behavior. Give me Your wisdom. Give me Your grace. Amen"



Sunday, March 29, 2015

The End of a Another Beginning <> The Beginning of Another End

“For this is God, 
Our God forever and ever; 
He will be our guide 
Even to death.” Psalm 48:14 NKJV

“To everything there is a season, 
A time for every purpose under heaven…  
He has made everything beautiful in its time. 
Also He has put eternity in their hearts, 
except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11 NKJV

As the Earth turns, in the design of its Maker, seasons end and seasons begin. There is no standing still. 

I’ve always liked the new. New holds such promise. The potential is unmarred with the pain of regret and loss. But, though every moment is the New, the previous moment is gone and retired into memory. You can’t get it back, and the New marches in steadily at the rate of 60 seconds per minute. 

I’ve never liked finishing. It’s the end of a promise. All the potential of the new has happened, and there’s no re-do. What’s done is done. 

We have come to the end of a season. We have been so blessed for the last 2 years by a season dedicated to learning and growth. On April 1, 2013, I (Gabe) began a program at a local technical college which ended this last week, March 24, 2015. Two years together with 19 other guys (and a girl), 5 days a week. The Lord saw fit to place me in a ministry to those who would become my friends, supply our needs through the GI Bill, and teach me the skills I’ve wanted to learn since I was a kid watching my dad build his own airplane.

The beginning held such promise: I knew God was in this new adventure when He cut through a 3-year waiting list, gave me transportation, and paid for my schooling (with a housing stipend on top). I knew He was giving me a ministry.

The end has been so difficult. Do you ever look back and ask yourself if you’ve done enough? Said enough? I saw no one start following Jesus. I didn’t speak the Gospel anywhere near as often as I thought I would. I begged the Lord for their salvation – I wanted to see the fruit of my prayers and efforts. 

I guess, in the end, I’m my mother’s son. I want to hear the Father say, “well done, good and faithful servant,” and I’m afraid I won’t. She said that in her last weeks on Earth, and I couldn’t believe it. I knew she pleased her Father.

For God will bring every work into judgment, 
Including every secret thing, 
Whether good or evil. Ecc 12:14 NKJV

That’s why I need a Redeemer. I need Someone to rescue me from my mistakes, to turn my losses into gains. I need to know that if I’ve messed up, a God bigger than I makes it His personal business to transform my mess into a beauty I couldn’t imagine. I need it, because I can’t face the end of the season without it.

And now! We stand on the precipice of another new adventure! I (Gabe) will start work at a general aviation maintenance shop in Renton, Washington, on April 13, 2015. Ace Aviation, Inc., is a medium-sized (yet expanding) shop that seems to specialize in the seaplanes we see a lot here in NW Washington (well, a lot more than in Tucson, anyway!). Planes with names like Beaver, Moose, and Kodiak. Some with leaky rumbly round engines, some with whiny whoosh jet props. In other words, the planes of my dreams.

We will probably be moving this Summer, to where we do not know. Meanwhile, as Asher turns 3 and the older kids settle into their own routines, Bonnie has felt a gentle push to possibly expand her ministry beyond our family. Time will tell what our vision cannot, and the Lord will make straight paths for us.

And, at the end of it all, we’re still going to need our Redeemer to make it all right. And that’s what makes it all okay. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Coming Home (November 19, 2014)

*Started on 11-19-2014 on the plane home from Ukraine, finished 4 months later*

Here I am in the last three hours of today's 13 hours of flying Home. It's surreal after 9 weeks in Ukraine. I'm still saying Da, spasiba, pashalzta, do pobachenya, dobrey den and the few other Ukranian words I know. 2-3 weeks longer than I expected, but every day had a purpose in the Divine Plan. So many things I want to remember...
* My daughter's huge smile as the plane took off from Ukraine. Not looking back.
* The Dutch security guard asking her to translate for an elderly babushka traveling alone, and her  pride in doing so
* Asher sleeping sweetly on the plane...2 hours are better than none!
No matter what's ahead, I know one thing for sure: the God who hand picked this girl out of all the kids in the orphanage system in Ukraine to join our family will be there with us.
His promise to me in my Bible reading this morning:
Luke 1:45 "Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord."