Tuesday, April 16, 2013

2012 in a Nutshell Video : )

For those of you that weren't able to make it to "A Taste of Paraguay" we are posting the slide show below.  It was so awesome working on this video, sifting through a gagillion photos of all the amazing people we met and ministered to as a team...all the faces of the people that came to volunteer...and the beautiful backdrop of South America that God has given to the people of Peru and Paraguay...just amazing. 

These photos in the slide show take me back to a year filled with stretching on all sides throughout our whole team and in the people that were ministered to.  Christ came to save and change the world.  When we go out in the name of Christ, that is exactly what happens... people are saved and all of us are changed.   The body of Christ is growing daily....literally.  Every day people are coming to know the Lord through the grace and mercy of God via the obedience and willingness of His people. 

Pastor Mark asked us if we felt like we had sacrificed a lot to join Extreme.  Cole answered perfectly...  at the time YES, we totally had an attitude of sacrifice for Christ.  I know in certain moments I felt that He was asking too much of me... Looking back on the last year we know we exchanged a good life heading in one direction for God's plan that was moving us in another.  I think it depends a lot on what we are measuring.  If our goal is safety, predictability, and stability then yes, we gave up a lot.  Where we are at now is very unpredictable.  On a daily basis we are trusting that the Lord will provide for our needs and the needs of the ministry and often the way God works is totally different than we expect.  When we look at how much we have grown, the front row seat to the miracles of international ministry, the new and amazing relationships we have formed with folks at home and on the field through the unity of the body of Christ, the things our kids learn that we aren't even teaching them... I would say we have saved our lives by losing them.  We only get this one life... we want to choose at every turn to follow Christ.  Crazily enough, He has called us far from home for now.  One day He may call us back to our home town and He might call one of you out here to the international mission field : )  (If He does, just GO!)

With eyes on Christ, we can see just how beautiful the other side of sacrifice really is.  (really, what can we sacrifice that is bigger than what God freely sacrificed for us?) We have said this before, the body of Christ IS THE PLAN.  When Christ ascended after the resurection, all of us were entrusted with this mission.  As we wait for the bridegroom to return, let us not be found wasting what we have been given, sitting idle, having forgotten our great first love.  Our lives are short.  The lives of those not yet saved are worth anything and everything we can give in exchange for that opportunity to share with them the hope in Christ Jesus.  Every moment we are given is for Him.  We live, preach, love, sing, laugh, move, give, and rest all for the Lord and thank God for the Grace that catches us when we all fall along the way because in our falling and struggle, God is working on His story and gracefully weaving us in.  If you aren't sure if you are in God's will in your life right now, or maybe you know you aren't... Pray for Him to speak clearly to you about where you are at, and then pray that you will want what He wants for you...that He will change your heart.  Pray for the strength and courage to trust in God's plan.  Sometimes we know His plan but find it hard to trust it and end up trying to make things happen on our own.  Trust in the still, small voice and know that He is God.  Follow Him wherever He leads, near or far.


In just 8 short weeks our family will pack up and head out once more to enter the mission field in Ecuador.  We are still looking to connect with those of you whom God is calling to join us through financial giving.  We have about 69% covered at this time and are trusting that God will provide the means for us to carry out this call.  I know He will.  If you are feeling led to give I hope that you will commit to do so and receive the blessing that comes from obedience.  We are so thankful to each one of you that love and encourage us along the way. 

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Grace and Peace always in Christ alone.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Who said anything about safe.?...

We have been so blessed to be home these past weeks. Among the most wonderful blessings have been Pastor Mark's sermons. God is working wonders everywhere in those who look to Him. These days in our world that is so focused on filling every emptiness with temporary satiations, it is quite natural to let ourselves carry on much in the same way. We forget to be transformed by the renwewing of our minds... we forget that the truth the world speaks of is hardly the truth at all and yet we fit our lives into this strange modern paradigm. If we could just live fully in each moment aware of Christ we would be both anchored and free... Free from anxieties, free from our "stuff", free to love, free to follow as Christ leads without fear...Anchored to REAL Truth in unwavering faith and confidence in life. We cannot put off God's purpose for each of our lives. If anything is worth doing it is worth doing well and now. We have to stop defining ourselves and our sense of accomplishment by our appearance, wealth, friends, job, our ability to avoid trouble and pain, by how long we can maintain a safe routine...
"Is he—quite safe?"..."Safe?" said Mr. Beaver ... "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you." from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
We all have the ups and downs of feeling strong, then not...feeling sure, then not. I think stepping out in faith has both pushed growth and exposed my weakness. I feel both confidence in the calling and a sense of total inadequacy. By far the coolest part is having confidence in He who sends us. Like all of the "heroes of the faith" we are quite inadequate for holy work without the Holy One.

We are getting back into gear as we are in the count down for Ecuador! We are about 10 weeks away from our flight to Quito and I am amazed how busy we have been and still are since being in the US for this short break. Our time home was unplanned but I can see exactly why the Lord has us here for this time. It has been a wonderful blessing to be with our loved ones and help out where we have been needed. That said, our hearts are definitely being tugged all the way down in Ecuador : ) The kids and I have been doing some reading at the library about the sweet people of Ecuador and are just more than eager to be a part of God's work there.

Right now we are getting things ready for our VISA application to Ecuador as missionaries, looking for the things we need to bring down there with us, praying a ton about our team that is also doing the same, as well as taking care of the day to day things here including kindergarten homework (way more than I remember!). Life is full no matter where we are!

For those of you that are within driving distance to Porterville, CA we are hosting an evening at Porterville Church of the Nazarene this Sunday April 7 at 5:30pm to share about our experiences in South America. We will have a presentation with hilights of the ministry, a slide show, some cultural items including "terere y sopa paraguaya" to share as well as discussing what we plan to accomplish as we head into Ecuador. I hope you come if you can squeeze it in! We were blessed to see Christ moving in the world through the body of Christ while we were down there and many of you have been vital parts of the blessings the Lord spread out through the people... come and receive the blessing yourselves. For those of you that are out of the area I will be posting the slide show and possibly the powerpoint so that you can check it out too : )

Porterville Church of the Nazarene
2005 Olive Ave Porterville, CA 93257
Sunday April 7 5:30pm - 7pm

As we are preparing for the next extended part of this journey we ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers. As full-time volunteers we are in total reliance upon the provision of God through His people to support the ministry in Ecuador. We are still looking for those whom God is calling to be our support as we devote our days to full-time ministry. My hope for you is that if God is indeed calling you to join us that you do so right away and with complete joy so that you may enjoy the blessing that comes from trusting in God's will at each turn. He has called us each to fill a purpose and has equipped us to accomplish it though sometimes we choose to say no. I remember when we were just beginning on this adventure and I kept feeling like I identified more with those that said "no" to God... like Jonah, or Zachariah who was struck dumb when questioning God's plan, even Moses tried to convince God that he was the wrong guy for the job... but we all know that God used these people in crazy amazing ways! In the end they each were compelled by the assurance they could not escape doing God's will, no matter how impossible or ilogical it might seem, is the only sure way to go...maybe not safe...but sure. They are there in the Bible to show us not so much about ourselves but a lot about God. He accomplishes through us, in spite of us. Be used by God!!!! Live to Worship! Join us if you should through prayer, financial support, or come to volunteer! At all costs do what the Lord is asking of you whatever that may be! And come hear about the cool stuff God is up to in Paraguay, Peru and Ecuador through Extreme Nazarene Ministries!


In His Love,