“THE PROCESS IS THE END. FOR IT IS THE PROCESS THAT IS GLORIFYING TO GOD.” --Oswald Chambers

"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Monday, May 31, 2010

AFTER READING THROUGH 2/10

I am struck as I read, that looking back I don’t really think we were writing very negatively. Sure, we shared struggles, and we presented some of our lessons on culture shock and burnout, but I guess I was expecting more. There were less than a handful of people who thought we were just being soooo negative, all the time. Reading it, I don’t even get the “feelings” for where we were-like that feeling of desperation, the struggle that was all-consuming at the time we were writing it. I guess it is just perspective of the reader? It was/is the atmosphere we were in at the time? Is it personality? These 2 or 3 people are just peachy pie type of people. They would never be public about any personal struggles, so they felt we were making people thinking badly of us. But then the rest of the responses we got thanked us for being willing to be HONEST about our struggles. HMM. I guess we were only out to represent ourselves and what God was teaching and stretching us through. And we chose to do it in the way we felt God wanted us to, so oh well to what they think?! What would they have said to Paul when he spoke of his own sufferings? “Paul, Paul, Paul! You need to edit all these letters! We’ve already got a call out to Matthew, Mark, Luke & John about taking that stuff Jesus said about suffering and bearing a cross OUT. We want people to follow Jesus! We don’t want them to think it’s gonna be hard, or cost them anything…we have to only tell them how great everything always is. They can just deal with that other stuff themselves, by themselves. We only need to tell them the good half of the truth!”

Someone told me they were reading it around that Jan/Feb time (in 09) and just got soooo depressed. The only thing we were writing about was what we had learned at MTI about transition, burnout, and culture shock; it was basically our course notes, just the facts they presented to us. Of course we said we ourselves were struggling with it. Hmm. Why is that depressing? Because it is real? Our pastor used to call our missions guy after reading our blog and ask, “Should I be worried yet?” And he’d say, “Nope-that’s normal, nope, that’s normal.” (He was a missionary himself in Asia for a few years) What’s not-so normal I guess, is the fact that we were writing about it as we were in it. So it was raw, it was personal, and it was real. We didn’t go back three years later and read our notes and then try to convey what we were feeling. Because like I said, I don’t even get those “feelings” now reading it, so how could I really write about it. You had the not-always-so-pretty privilege of reading what real missionaries (can) go through on the field but are unable to say. For this exact reason-someone calls their feelings, their experiences, their life-too negative. Really? Who gave you the right to judge that? Again, that new Amy Grant song goes through my head-
We pour out our miseries-
God just hears a melody-
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts-
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We never set out for our blog to be a cheerleader for our project, because our blog was never about the project. We (tried to) only wrote what we had to that dealt with our faith struggle, give a few updates; believe me-there’s a much larger book we could write if it was suppose to be about the project. Our blog was, and is, about our personal faith journey. I guess some people could never get that through their heads, they thought it was more than it was. And they unknowingly contributed to exactly what they didn’t want to see/read.

We wrote and edited and reread every post numerous times so it was just what we felt the Lord was leading us to say. I guess we were confident in that at the time, but if everything else about our calling is now being questioned, you could question that too.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

barn dance

Fun at the barn dance last night! Sorry about the poor quality. Myron was having a blast, and luckily didn't get knocked over!
Check out Dad's fancy foot work!

video

Saturday, May 29, 2010

love, love, love ultrasounds



I so enjoy getting ultrasounds and seeing the little life inside. This was on Thursday, I am at 10 weeks, so that puts the due date around 12/20/10. I usually delivery 1-3 weeks early, so we are just saying December :-)

The kids, as usual, were disappointed it wasn't twins (always hoping...). We are of course just happy that baby is healthy and developing well.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Written in 4/09
-We’ve been so worried about doing our ministry (office, duties, functions), we are often missing or having a hard time seeing the mission (that which we are destined or fitted to do-the calling, performing the service) we are do here.
So we were called here to head agriculture at the college… More important though, we are called as GOD’s agents to do the duties and functions HE has called us to do. Most times they are the same; sometimes they are a little different! We knew there would be many other things we would be called to do as well-just didn’t think there would be as much of those either…We’ve been evaluating our call to obedience-what is it? Was the call to the project? To Africa? No-the call was to OBEDIENCE-wherever, whenever, however the LORD would have it be. Will it look like we think? Apparently not! We are just the subordinates to the authority of Jesus Christ!
WE ARE MOST EFFECTIVE FOR CHRIST WHEN WE ARE OBEDIENT TO HIM.

Many times reading back, we were so caught up in the moment by moment; the little things of life that never felt so little. And we knew it, but no matter how hard we tried, we just couldn’t seem to get out of it. More and more kept being piled on top of us.
Is that still a little bit of what is happening now? Are we so caught up in the moment by moment feelings, that we can’t see the bigger picture? Probably. That’s why reading the blog can be a really good thing.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A DEVOTIONAL WE PUT UP ON April 5, 2009

"On Him they laid the cross, that He might bear it after Jesus." Luke 23:26

We see in Simon's carrying the cross a picture of the work of the Church throughout all generations; she is the cross-bearer after Jesus. Mark then, Christian, Jesus does not suffer so as to exclude your suffering. He bears a cross, not that you may escape it, but that you may endure it. Christ exempts you from sin, but not from sorrow. Remember that, and expect to suffer.
But let us comfort ourselves with this thought, that in our case, as in Simon's, it is not our cross, but Christ's cross which we carry. When you are molested for your piety; when your religion brings the trial of cruel mockings upon you, then remember it is not your cross, it is Christ's cross; and how delightful is it to carry the cross of our Lord Jesus!
You carry the cross after Him. You have blessed company; your path is marked with the footprints of your Lord. The mark of His blood-red shoulder is upon that heavy burden. 'Tis His cross, and He goes before you as a shepherd goes before his sheep. Take up your cross daily, and follow Him.
Do not forget, also, that you bear this cross in partnership. It is the opinion of some that Simon only carried one end of the cross, and not the whole of it. That is very possible; Christ may have carried the heavier part, against the transverse beam, and Simon may have borne the lighter end. Certainly it is so with you; you do but carry the light end of the cross, Christ bore the heavier end.
And remember, though Simon had to bear the cross for a very little while, it gave him lasting honour. Even so the cross we carry is only for a little while at most, and then we shall receive the crown, the glory. Surely we should love the cross, and, instead of shrinking from it, count it very dear, when it works out for us "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
—Morning and Evening

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Some quotes that came at a perfect time for us (From Barbara Johnson’s, “Pack Up Your Gloomies in a Great Big Box, Then Sit on the Lid and Laugh!”), I think we posted them around 2/09.

“When the flood waters of the cesspool have come up to your very soul, you don’t need challenges; you need COMFORT. You need a friend to come alongside and say, “I am hurting with you...I am standing with you…I am weeping with you. I am undergirding you as best I can. Link your shield of faith with mine and somehow we will make it together.” Pg. 13

We loved that we could (and still can?) share our struggles with you and you would send us words of COMFORT. You (at least, most of you) didn’t tell us to suck it up, quit talking publically about your struggles, just do this or that and it will be all better. You just told us you were praying with us-you linked your faith with ours and got us through many tough times.

“Whatever comes to any of us is sent or allowed by God.” p.15

“When we believe that nothing comes to us except through our heavenly Father, then suffering begins to make a little sense to us-not much, I admit, but a little bit, and that’s all God needs to work in our lives, just a mustard seed of faith. Then we can see that God is using our pain to work something in us that is redemptive. Every trial or broken relationship goes into God’s oven and eventually we begin to “smell” like cake or fresh bread. Even our suffering counts for something!” p.17

“God calls us to be faithful; He did not promise we would be successful.” P.101

He didn’t promise us we’d be successful in the eyes of the world, often not even in our own eyes. But HE is faithful, and HE calls us to be faithful. He is the prefector and the rewarder of our faith.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

-We wrote this in 6/08
Sometimes we need to go through some of the same experiences the people we will minister to have gone through, in order to be more effective in the ministry. Of course, when we are obedient in the trials, God also brings the blessings!

I wonder where God is going to lead us to minister after these experiences.

-Copied from ? (Forgot to get the date.)
To learn to love your enemies you first must have an enemy. To learn about forgiveness you first must be wronged. To learn about the true joy in the Lord you first must experience deep pain. To learn obedience we first must be asked to do something. To learn true dependence on Christ you must be in deep need. And to be able to minister to others you often must experience the pain to be able to understand. These are the hard lessons of the faith that are not often talked about.

Wish we could have learned these lessons the easy way! So often our writings turned out to be prophetic of where God would be leading us.

-From 2/09
I want you to understand that sometimes to be able to see and recognize the good, first you must see and experience the bad. It’s hard to recognize the one without the other. Scripture also tells us that in this world we will have struggles. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works in ALL things (good, bad, positive, negative, hard) for the good of those who are called according to His purposes. Do we enjoy this (yuck) period right now? Nope, not at all. But we can go through them and grow through them knowing God is at work!
Oswald Chambers said, “THERE IS NO OIL WITHOUT SQUEEZING THE OLIVES, NO WINE WITHOUT PRESSING THE GRAPES, NO FRAGRANCE WITHOUT CRUSHING THE FLOWERS. AND NO REAL JOY WITHOUT SORROW.”

I know some people out there have a real problem with that (saying, in particular). They don’t want to believe that. They don’t want to believe that the Christian life has, and is, a struggle. They want to sugarcoat and over-spiritualize, “well, I guess I can just be thankful I…” “I guess God just wants me to see/do/be…” That’s not all bad, because yes, God is in every situation that we face. But there is often this level where it’s too good-the bad is really good. Really, it’s not. The bad is bad for a reason; the struggle is there for a reason, and it’s OKAY. Let God do the refining work that He needs to do. Don’t fight it, don’t make it all rosy-LEARN FROM IT.

“When silver is refined, the refiner knows it is pure when it has been in the fire long enough to see his reflection. So it is with God. He will allow us to go through the fire until He sees His reflection.”

Praying that He sees His reflection soon!

Monday, May 24, 2010

-We wrote this in 1/08
It’s just not always a lot of fun being the instrument that is used by GOD.

-This was written in 3/2008
Obedience to GOD (His Word and His voice) will truly bring you closer to HIM. I want to make it clear, so I will say it again: following Christ does NOT mean that life will be a bed of roses. It does not mean that you will not have trials or tribulations, that you will get what you want. It’s not that God doesn’t bless, we just conveniently forget that we are called to suffer as Christ suffered. If you want an easier life on this side of eternity, do not follow Christ. But you will not have meaning or purpose and you will not experience joy that can only come from the Lord. It is a choice that God gives us.

-An encouragement from our friend Deron who is now face to face with Jesus (written in 1/09)
The One who called you to obedience is faithful and will enable you to endure to the end. I think one of your main encouragements now as you wait for the fruits of your mission work to unfold is simply the knowledge that you are right in the center of his will, doing the best you can to obey his leading.

Yes people, OBEDIENCE can (and often will) hurt. If it was meant to be easy, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

the TRUE TRUE TRUE story

A commenter, who said they were a supporter, wants to know the TRUE TRUE TRUE story of why we left. Another commented that they still don’t know what went wrong.

We’ve always said we are an open book, ask away and we will tell. So, we will gladly tell you, you just need to ASK us. We’ve always encouraged you to ask, because we know there are many rumors out there. It’s a mid-western curse maybe? We never want to ask the actual people involved; we like to ask someone else we think might know. I (unfortunately) do it myself too often. So we have asked you and told you again and again to ask us, US. And we have had conversations on the phone or through email with many of you, and we have greatly appreciated them.

There are just a few issues for us to consider about how we can tell the truth-publicly at least.

Technically, we were employees of our agency, they were an employer-just like Burger King or anyone else who pays a W-2 wage. So while they have more bounds about what they are allowed to say and not say by employer/employee confidentiality laws, we don’t have quite the same restrictions. In essence, we’ve been told that for them to tell anyone much more than “it just didn’t work out,” it could be interpreted as breaking those laws. Somehow, we aren’t bound quite the same way by those laws (or by any other agreement because we never signed any type of confidentiality agreement or contract of any kind with them).

Any truth we write is OUR truth; what we saw, what we did (or didn’t do), what we kept records of. And with the Internet being what it is, and black and white words read differently by different people, someone could easily take what we say in the wrong way. And we can only present our side, from our perspective. And fact would be intertwined with opinion and could easily be misinterpreted by someone as saying something it doesn’t. And we can’t tell you anything from the side, because we are obviously not them, and second, because after the decision for us to leave was made, we were never given an opportunity to discuss it with anyone from our agency. Communications beyond a few logistical questions were not happening; they were not open to discussing anything. And I will add that to this day, there still has been no attempt made at reconciliation (on either side). From what WE read and saw and felt in all our emails and then subsequent discussions with our church staff, the agency does not feel they did anything needing reconciliation, apologies or discussions. (See, now that is an opinion-we don’t KNOW that as fact (we haven’t asked them), so that’s our own perception).

We said we would respect the Anonymous commenters and we have posted them; but this may be a case where the answer can’t be put on the blog. We respect your questions and have an answer prepared, but we feel we shouldn’t put the full answer on the blog at this time. As one of our supporters, you know that we have always tried to be brutally honest with you; and we would be, just privately. At this point in time, we still feel we need to be discreet and need to give direct answers and examples in private communications (because it’s so easy to get burned). We have hinted to various things and reasons along the way, but those have been indirect/somewhat veiled, so you may not have caught them. And do believe this: we were (and are still) honored and humbled to have been supported by you. We do know there is a responsibility to answer your concerns and questions and we will do so…and we will not feel you have turned on us or think any less of you or anything else if you still don’t agree with how things turned out. Just don’t be afraid to ask!

If you give us your number, we will call you and discuss it with you. Or if you prefer, we will email you and share with you, and answer any more specific questions you may have. Really, WE WANT TO TELL YOU. We just need to figure out how to do it in a Christ-honoring way. We can give you specific examples of all the things that led to our leaving-all the things we were lied to about, all the things we saw that we couldn’t go along with, all the things we also said and did on our part. Perhaps the simplest thing to say is that it became increasing clear to both sides that we no longer had compatible mission philosophies and methods for the project and the way business was conducted, so it became necessary for us to leave (and the truth is: it was not by our choice).

Without being able to go into all those details, I know that doesn’t really tell you the TRUE TRUE TRUE story. We are trying to use “due prudence” and not publicly air all the dirty laundry. Believe me-a major part of me wants so badly to go public with what we saw and what happened, but I know it is not currently the right time. So please, contact us privately at our email calltoobedience@gmail.com. Don’t leave your name if you don’t want, just an email address.

But let me end by saying this: if you think we left because Brian shot a cow, you’re wrong. :-)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Another hard thing-reading notes and remembering encouragements from people along the way who are now completely silent to us. I know, I know. They just don’t know what to say. And I couldn’t tell you what to say either. But all the time Brian in particular spent with you, how you encouraged us, sent us notes and emails (and Facebooks!), and sent over care packages and gifts. And you don’t know the whole (true) story of why we left…so you say nothing. Ouch.
I wonder if this isn’t what it feels like when there is a death in someone’s family-especially a spouse. No one knows what to say; so they don’t say anything. Another lesson I should be learning and putting into practice as I have a few acquaintances in this type of situation.
One guy wrote to us “thank you for living out your faith for all of us to see.” I wonder if he is still thankful for that. Truth is, faith isn’t always, actually rarely is, the mountain top. Are you still happy with your faith when you are (or see others) in the valley of the shadow of death? Do you still want to see my faith then?
Looking back we felt we were making an impact on people’s lives. Some of you told us we were. Do you doubt us now and does that make you doubt any change/impact in your own life? I would hope not. Really, that sounds pretty high and mighty, doesn’t it? But reading the comments you left, I know we had brought about “something” in some of your lives. I just wouldn’t want anything that ended up happening to us affect you. That you would doubt, just because it didn’t work out according to our plan.
I think I am deciding that it is good for me, anyway, to be reading our complete blog. I think I am suppose to be learning to get my focus off of me and think about GOD and what HE has done, is doing, and will be doing. HE is still good, HE is still GOD, and HE is still in control.
Please keep praying for Brian and I. So often it seems we aren’t in the same place on a lot of our healing. Which is often two steps forward, one (or three) steps back anyway. One of us seems to get through something, and then the other is attacked harder. There is still such a spiritual battle going on in us, for us, through us.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

So here is what I think about reading our journal so far-at this point on page 55 of 184 in the computer:
-it’s good. I see where we were and want and desire to be back there. But bad as I am discouraged that I am no longer there.
-it’s good we weren’t so cynical then-saw the good in people. Believed a lot though, that maybe we shouldn’t have. So not sure if this is the time, as I battle with taking away the good that was there. For example, we learned (the HARD way) that a lot of people, especially our nationals, will say or do whatever it is they think you want them to. Problem is they do this for most Westerners or others in authority. So they will say one thing to you, then another to someone else, depending on what they can get out of it. So as I read I see how we wrote that this person or this group were so excited for us to be there, for us to share with them, etc. etc. And then I want to take from that. I want to say-they were just saying that. They didn’t really mean it. Truth is, I don’t know if they did. And maybe it’s best if I just believe that they did.
How do I keep clinging to the truths I know (or only feel?) about where we are and how things played out? I look back and read and we were so sure then…but it sometimes feels we were so wrong. How then can we be so sure now? What if we are wrong now? What if we have told ourselves what we need to hear to make ourselves feel better? How do we know what God is saying anymore?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

There may be some of you out there who are going to have a “problem” with our writing about our time in Zambia. You think that we need to just get over it, stop obsessing about it, quit dredging up the past, get on with your life… If so, check back in a few weeks, or not at all I guess. Time and time again we have said this is about us and our faith and what we are struggling and processing and transitioning. And this is part of the process. And Zambia is now a part of us. Yes, there will be a lot coming up about our time there (it’s pretty much all written so we will post it one right after the other). Better now than in the month after we left! It’s time for stepping back and evaluating, with at least a little less hurt.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

An email from two years ago (on Facebook) showed up the other day. Very weird. I then went to look at it online, but it said it wasn’t available. Hmm…what’s that about? It was an email telling us to enjoy our new time in Zambia and keep writing about it as it will be a “joy” to read through later. Yeah-not so much right now! Anyway, I got to thinking-where (and why) in the world did that just show up? Not a coincidence I am sure. So, I have decided to go back and read our journal-from the very beginning, almost 3 years ago now.
It’s a little tough to do. This time of year is proving tough anyway. For the last three years we have either been planning for Brian to go, or all of us to go to Zambia…and now here we are, and not planning to go anywhere.
Anyway, one thing that really saddens me as I read is seeing the passion we had-for what we were going to do, for God, for…everything. We felt on fire for the Lord and it spilled into all our thoughts and conversations and we were learning and sharing and excited with what we learned and just eating it up. And now, well, now. Nothing much excites me-most things actually annoy me. If someone wants to make a big deal out of anything-I say, fine-let’em; but I am not going to be involved. I just don’t have the time or energy to argue about much anymore. Why would I want to?
We’ve been told (by many former and current missionaries and missionary care workers) it will really take YEARS for us to “get over” what happened to us in Africa. Wow. Thanks. Really not looking forward to that.
As I keep reading, I wonder if I should. Wow-we were definitely the idealistic ones, weren’t we! I don’t know how many of you that started the journey with us are still on it. But wow-we had ideas, we had plans… We were so wrong on so many levels. Many things we were just ignorant of-the way things really worked. Many things we were mislead on-often because of others’ ignorance. Many things we just chose not to believe-because the truth was easier to ignore. Many of the things we said we were going to do, or should do-yeah, that never happened either. So I am still reading, still deciding if this is such a good idea or not.
Man, have we (I) become cynical.
It’s like there is this huge battle saying-man were you wrong! You were so sure this is where God called you and all those confirmations along the way-they didn’t mean anything, they weren’t confirmations. For a second there was the worst one-who needs this God anyway? You were wrong about this…you’re probably wrong about it all. Thankfully that was one thought captured and thrown out right away. But really, I can now see how easy it is for people to fall away from God when they are hurt deeply, especially by others in “ministry”. Never thought about it, understood it. Maybe I see it a bit? Maybe I am still learning things?
Anyway, I read and battle with: if everything worked out so right to get us there, what went so wrong? Do I deduce that we just screwed it all up? That now God has the unenviable job of redeeming our mess? Or do I look and say we got there because God wanted us there, to do what God wanted us to do, and it was just way different than what we ever would have thought?
I am not reading with great joy. I am reading and battling. I am thankful for my gift of faith more and more.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Still no word on selling our house. Our renters sold their home in the Cities so now are looking here. They do have their eye on a place, but it would require quite a bit of work to get livable again, so they will be at our place through the summer at least. We need to either be back in our house by the end of this year or sell it (for tax purposes). We are starting to become more and more resigned to the fact that we don’t think it is going to sell, and we will move back into it in the fall. I am not super excited about moving back, because let’s face it, it feels more and more like we are going back to the way things were before we ever left.
We are even throwing around the idea of building a bigger house, but who knows? We’d still need to sell our house.
I am reading back our blog from the beginning (the reason for that, later). I am just now at the point where we first put our house on the market. We were so sure it would sell right away, because we were so sure of our call to Zambia. I read and was struck (again) by God’s sovereignty. He knew that if we would have sold the house, we would have “invested” ALL of it in our ministry in Zambia because that is how sold out He knew we were-how sold out He wanted us to be. But even then HE knew we would be coming back sooner rather than later, and then what would we have? Instead, HE used that time in Zambia for us to pay off the mortgage so that we now have some income from its rent (admittingly yes, we did have a lot of headaches with it at one point). If we do decide to build, owning it outright also means no double payments during construction and once sold, most if not all, of that house would be paid for too. So we’ll just keep waiting and watching I guess!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I have been really emotionally lately. Ready to cry at the tiniest thought of things. Even my doctor who hasn’t seen me in 1 ½ years recognized that I am just not acting like me. Once I told her my news she said it made sense. And what is my news? Guess…you’ve all been expecting it for some time I’m sure! Yup. I am pregnant!! Baby #8 is due in the middle of December. I don’t remember being this emotional with the other kids, but considering the stress of the last year, I suppose my body is going in hyper drive with the hormones.

Friday, May 14, 2010

made me smile

I did my usual jaunt around the blogosphere checking out my favorite blogs. Got to this one, and it just made me happy. I don't know why.
Maybe it's because I see them working so well within their culture and the limitations and relevant expectations?

Darbi & Blu were missionaries with the International Mission Board (think Southern Baptists) in this area of Zambia a handful of years back now (Mapanza is west and south of Lusaka). They were there for two years, one of which they spent living in the bush in this area.
They went back to the States for Blu to finish seminary but had a heart for Zambia. Apparently others saw it too and they were greatly encouraged and gifted (financially) to start an orphanage back in the area they had served. This is the website for the orphanage.

We missed them by just a few months and they are now back in Zambia building the site. They are making their own bricks on site, they cut down their own trees and are putting up their own power lines, they have manual boreholes on site, they are working and building and finishing buildings... It just excites me to see the step by step process for them and how they are making it work. (Kind of how I got excited watching Zack's updates in Serenji-hey check out that fence!)

They got their tax exempt number in just a few short months. The biggest snafoo I have seen was a problem with their shipping container that arrived in 3 months-they had to unload it right away and couldn't keep the container. :( Even through that, God is clearing working through and blessing this family and ministry as they work in this new area.

New area, but yet not new-using the relevant building processes and working through government channels and business connections and accomplishing much. Way to go guys!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

“I don’t want to think about it anymore. What good does it do?”
Does it do any good think about our time in Africa anymore? What should we be thinking through?
How long until some things stop effecting me? The other day Kel received an email from the couple that bought our stuff (container, household, and vehicle). They wrote to say that they made it over there and got out to the school and got the truck out of the container. That is all it took, Kel telling me about the truck. It triggered a whole host of emotions (anger, resentment, bitterness, sadness, remorse) all because I heard about my truck. Not my truck, their truck. Just like everything else that we brought over there, it all belongs to someone else now. It is a stupid truck… and I really, really liked it. Just like my house that I designed and built myself (with the help of some very special people). It is just cement, plaster, wood, and tin but it was my home, MY home. And some (bleep-bleep-bleep) took it all away. Or at least that is what I would like to think. But the truth is he didn’t. It doesn’t change his character, but he doesn’t have that much power. God is the one in control. He called us there and He called us out. My dilemma is: if I am going to be angry at someone, it would need to be HIM and no one else. But I don’t want to be angry with Him. All He has done is take care of every need we have had. He has and continues to bless us beyond measure for our obedience. I have been struggling with depression for the last month and the other day it struck me that this is the first time in the last 3 yrs that I am not preparing to go or all ready there, in Zambia. I am here with no intention of ever going back.
I am so thankful for the work the Lord has provided. It is something I really enjoy. Working out in the fields on the farm or taking care of people’s homes. I enjoy growing stuff. I think it is because it is something I can see, it is tangible, and it is life (when I have often felt dead). I like the fact that many of these people whose grounds I take care of have given me the freedom to do whatever needs to be done to make it look good. I do whatever needs to be done so they do not have to worry about it and all they have to do is enjoy it. It gives me the physical labor I need to work out my frustrations at times and when I’m done I can look at it and feel good about it and myself. I also enjoy the challenge of starting a business again and building it. It helps to work alone. I can think and talk to God and even vent to Him about what is going on in my head and heart. I just pray that some day in the near future I can start to feel like myself again.

It feels somewhat like we passed another small little test. Maybe went from K to 1st grade? If you’ve ever listened to Otto Keaning, 1st grade is as tough as high school though-so we’ve still got a lot to learn!
We (Bri) had made a hard decision about some things-and he was semi-excited about it I guess. It definitely wasn’t my first choice, and I let him know in some ways not so nicer than others. It was a little bit of plan forward, what looked like the next logical thing to do. Reluctantly and really only half-heartedly I really began to accept it. As soon as I did, I did begin to get just a little excited about it. Definitely not cheerleader stage-have had too many ups and downs for that.
Things then began to change in other ways too. I will say that this next step/plan had a lot of” if-thens” attached to it. And the plan is still there, maybe just on hold for now? We don’t know. Shortly after this though, Brian was given a nice sized raise at the development he takes care of. He also landed a private residence there, and may have one or two more in the works. This along with helping his dad on the farm has been more than enough to keep him busy each week. While it will vary some each week, he can easily get more than enough time in to pay the bills for a little while. So we still have a back-up idea anyway, but we aren’t going down that path yet. We also had some other good news pop up (more on that later).
How does that look like passing a test? Well, sometimes, maybe even often times, I think God just wants to know if we are willing. Willing to do something we really don’t want to. Something (or someone?) we don’t want to obey or follow. We firmly believe that because we both became willing to do something, God was pleased; He was glorified; and so rewarded us with a few good things.
Of course, now having written that, I had a pretty low two weeks-on the cusp of super miserable. Then about the time I start getting pulled out of it-hit a “breakthrough”, then Brian hits a low and it feels like I could easily spiral back down. Life is a roller coaster that I’d be happy to get off for awhile!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

what's the point?

What’s the point of doing this silly (stupid?) blog anyway? Sometimes I wonder. There isn’t much we feel like saying lately, or at least anything we would want to post. And all bloggers know that in order to keep an audience you really need to write every other day or so. We usually don’t feel like doing that. What is it suppose to be about anymore anyway? We don’t really need to do the family update thing as we are near the grandparents. We don’t feel we are learning and living anything out too exciting and “spiritual” right now. (more on where that came from later) There is no passion, no drive, no nothing. We’ve lost readers I know because of it. Who wants to read someone else’s misery?
We’ve always tried to present an honest look at what it was like to go on the mission field, be on the mission filed, and now to come back. So that part of the “it” isn’t over. Basically we still continue to struggle with being here and what took place when we were there. Africa is now a part of us.
But “it” wasn’t really just about Africa. “It” is about walking out our faith. And we are, and still will keep doing that. Because no matter what-despite how much it hurts-we still have our faith in God. If this doesn’t make us lose it, I don’t think anything ever will!
So, yeah, we have been doing some writing now. (By the time you read some of them, they maybe a few weeks old) Some of it is very personal and truthful about what tricks and lies the devil is throwing at us and how HARD it is to resist them, to capture our thoughts. IT IS HARD. Some of these next ones may be a little brutal. But just as before, God is there and in it. He wants to hear it all-He’s big enough to handle it! And some will say, why not just journal for yourself then? Why put all these thoughts on the internet for the world to see? Because we are suppose to. Why? We don’t know. We know this blog isn’t only for us-it may be for you. But until we aren’t supposed to share online anymore, we will.
Thank you for coming along with us on our walk. We appreciate you and your prayers more than you will ever know!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

anonymous

Just want to make it clear, that yes, you can post a comment anonymously.

I don't know if someone asked in a joking/sarcastic way :-) (like, can you ever really be anonymous??) or if they are serious, so I am answering.

If you look at the comments on the post before this, it just says "Anonymous", so no-I really have no idea who posted it. I do have to publish or reject any comment that you leave, but I can honestly tell you I don't think I have ever rejected a comment. We just check to be sure names aren't named or that there is no swearing or so forth.

So comment away!

Friday, May 7, 2010

“Fear is the thief of dreams and destiny."

What else does fear do to us? What does it (has it) stolen from you? How do you conquer your fear?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Worry more about your character than your reputation. Character is what you are, reputation merely what others think you are." - John Wooden

We’ve really had to chew on this and live it. We have definitely decided that for us, our character-our integrity, is far more important than what others think about us. But that DOES NOT mean it is easy. Of course we sometimes think about what others think about us. And we know some of those things; we know some are lies, and some of it is true. For the most part though, we are letting (or at least trying very hard!) God defend us.

So, what about you? How important is your reputation to YOU? What are you willing to do (or not do) to keep your reputation? Reputation to who? Others? God?

What is your character (what is included in that)? What do you do to protect that? How do you protect?

How else can you explain the difference between reputation and character?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

“The manager is satisfied with the status quo, the Leader challenges it.”

For the past two weeks our Pastor did a short Sunday school class on leadership. So, so many times I thought of our situation and the leadership that went along with that. So, here is a quote from someone (?) about leadership. What do you think? What other attributes do leaders have? What shouldn’t they have? Why do you do when you around a great leader? Under one who is “less than great”?

Comments please! They can be anonymous too, so don’t worry-we don’t have to know who you are!