One word. So many emotions.
Change can be exciting, miraculous, and fun.
Change can be frightening, daunting, and very difficult.
Change can be what we never wanted or everything that we ever needed and strangely enough, both.
Sometimes we run from the situations that we fear will bring the greatest changes. One thing for sure, though, change is inevitable in this life.
If you are anything like me, though, you may very well find yourself running, headlong into the fray that will leave indelible marks forever on your soul. Changes to who you will forever be afterwards. In circumstances that cause the most basic and complex changes – where your mind cannot comprehend the magnitude where all you can do is fall to your knees. Where crying out feels like the most natural thing to do and strangely enough, silence brings balance. Where up feels down and left has switched to right. Where faith is put to the test. All of it points back to the constant faithfulness of our Creator. To our Lord and Savior. He remains calmly centered in our changing. In our struggles.
I have been there so many more times than I can count!!
Change brought us to rural Guatemala.
Change took us from our rural haven to the capital city of Guatemala.
I find myself in wonder and wondering how this makes any sense. But, it does. It makes more sense every day.
God is faithful. Jesus paid it all. In full. That we may have life abundant.
In every stage of change – beginning, middle, and end.
Change can keep you from moving if you allow fear to steer you through the currents of this life. Fear stops you- FAITH MOVES YOU. Tides change. Winds change. Time zones change. People change.
Our one constant- the One who was, is, and will be-is not surprised when change comes. No matter how many changes there are. He knows the outcome. He knows the why. He knows the how and the who. Fear is not even a part of His equation.
If we have faith. If we trust. If we throw fear out of the proverbial window and LISTEN. Listen to the Spirit’s guiding voice, we can faithfully follow each step of the ever-changing route that will tell of His faithfulness, love, and devotion. He has never left us- nor will He, ever. Through all of the changes in this life. Through all of the changes within US. From the beginning to the end…
He is constant,
He is faithful,
He is unchangeable.
It has been brought to my attention, by my loving husband, that I have not updated our blog recently. Sadly enough, he is absolutely right! Grab a coffee and let me tell you what God has been doing with us here!
Those of you who know us, know that we moved to Guatemala in October of 2016 to be house parents with an organization that we had enjoyed working with during mission trips for several years. The decision to move was made after years of prayer and the Holy Spirit’s prompting. We went all-in for the glory of our Lord to serve those that He already knew were waiting. We sold the house, the cars, …ALL the stuff. We burned our boat. So, imagine our surprise when God sent us the affirmation last December that that sweet place that we thought was His forever plan was not going to be our place in Guatemala any longer. We were being called to the city. These country mice…
We loved Jalapa. We loved San Pedro Pinula. We loved the family that God provided and assembled for us there. We enjoyed family dinners and birthday parties. We enjoyed holiday celebrations. We looked forward to the hugs that would greet us and send us on our way, every time we came near. We loved the simplicity of country living- different, but so similar to the life we left in Florida. A little bit of our hearts- if not a big chunk- will forever beat for that rural mountainside and for those members of our family.
We cried when we left- THE UGLY CRY, y’all. Praise God that it is only a 2 hour drive away- depending on traffic. (Insert snickering and 3 more hours)
So, our new home… Child Beyond International. House director of a children’s home with 20 littles (occasionally more) that have been abandoned, abused, neglected, wounded. A fully established staff that was still reeling from the emotional loss of the dismissal of the former director- and not at all entirely certain of the “new girl” in the house.
In the city.
With all that the city brings.
Truthfully, of all of the adjustments, this move to the city has been the hardest of all.
All of the unknown. People. Streets. Traffic. Dialect- yes, really. Ministry. Responsibilities. Housing. Concrete. Oh! the concrete.
It felt as if we were starting all over again. But, in all actuality, God just picked up our pace. We had had a year to acclimate. A year assimilate into Guatemalan culture. To grow our linguistics and vocabulary. To seek Him so much more than ever before. He had been preparing the way to the front door of this new ministry, this new adventure, this new opportunity for YEARS. I look back and I am left in awe. Of all of the ways that He was preparing me. All of the ways that He gently and not so gently stretched and molded. In Women’s Ministry, in being a Deputy’s wife, being a Momma, homeschool teacher, Pre-K assistant, Pregnancy Care Center Director…so many opportunties to serve faithfully or not at all. To choose to simply walk away or to stay. To take the easy route or the bumpy path less traveled. Not because of anything that I was or could do or say, but only through acts of obedience, He prepared me- for a time such as this. (Esther 4:14)
So, now we rise. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Thank you for your love. For your support. For your prayers. For being with us every step of this journey. For the few days here…
We returned to Guatemala ready to hit the ground running! That was a great frame of mind because, we had quite a busy month! A team of lady friends came to share their gifts and love with the ladies of the hermandad project. We hiked a volcano with them and watched it sputter in pre-eruption excitement. A ballet dance on a soccer field. 60 families fed in place of the originally thirty planned. Praise God! May these families return to the church. May they return to the loving arms of our Lord. Brilliant lights on a much desired Christmas Tree and in the eyes of those holding burning candles in a candle light service. A realization of just how soon time travels as we began taking daily steps of life together as a family of three. What a beautiful month. What a gift. All of it.
I am still reeling!
“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2
God is Faithful. He is good! What an oppurtunity we have to share Him wherever we are. We hope that you enjoy the photos of how God allowed us to share and Love Where We Live the final month of 2017. Shane, Mandy, and Ava.
October found us busy, busy, busy. And sick – let me explain…
We now have eight Little Lambs at the orphanage. Eight children with different backgrounds. Different experiences. Different family situations. Different ages. The same need for Jesus to fill the gaps left inside by broken relationships amidst a broken world. The same lost looks and feelings of abandonment. The same desire to be seen, to be known, to be loved unconditionally and accepted as family.
Don’t we all want to be loved and accepted unconditionally?
Don’t we all need Jesus to fill in our broken places and to shine through these cracks?
I say, YES!
We get to teach Bible and Science to the grade school age children several times a week. To love on them. To show them God’s handiwork in their lives and the environments around them. To demonstrate the power of prayer and God’s love through explosive and interesting science experiments…really, I am not sure who is having more fun most times. But, I will tell you the excitement on their faces when I walk in…the hugs, smiles, and questions. Oh! Those questions…bring them on! God, please give me the answers for them…
We have also been given the opportunity to minister to local women. Meeting weekly, four groups of women receive a bible study lesson, receive the Word of God and experience the love of Jesus while learning to process clay and make jewelry. Please join us in prayer as God is unfolding a plan for these ladies and this rural community. Please pray for this hermandad- this sisterhood of women and their families.
In the midst of God’s ministry here, He brought us yet another opportunity to love. We have a sweet young lady living with us so that she may realize her dreams of completing high school. Prayers for provision, protection, direction, and discernment are asked for and treasured.
One last memory for October 2017:
Mountainous climate changes for an unacclimated Florida girl who prefers flip flops and tank tops above all else as wardrobe choices leads to the worst upper respiratory infection that I ever remember having. Two weeks in bed. Not even the fun, eat what you want, Netflix binge and talk to your friends kind of sick days. Oh no. These were who am I? Who are you? What is that smell? I can’t breathe, but I can cough like a 90-year-old lifetime smoker. That smell? Pretty sure it is me – when did I shower last? Need an emergency double dose breathing treatment, a shot in the bum, four different kinds of medicine, cancel all classes- for kids and women, do not leave your house, “I am worried about you” statements from your doctor kind of sick days.
I thank God for Dr. Ruiz, Pastor Carlos, my needle wielding nurse and phlebotomist, Andrea- whom I questioned pretty heavily between coughs about the sterility and cleanliness of all implements used in my procedure, my adorable chauffeur/ amazing husband, my sweet attentive children. Mostly, I thank God for His healing hand and provision. He makes us rest. So, we rest. And we learn. Wear the sweater…just saying.
As I reflect on this month, I find myself, yet again, in awe of our Lord.
“…let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,…” Hebrews 12:28
My eldest child celebrated another birthday this month and is now one year away from “adulthood”.
As he reminds me of this new status of his life, almost daily, I let him know that I haven’t forgotten within the last 24-48 hours. That I have been there and, God willing, I will continue to be. That, in the quiet when he doesn’t know that I am watching, I see so much of myself coming out of him only further proving that he is my child. I am so very proud of who God is making him to be. He makes me laugh. Sometimes, he frustrates me to no end. And occasionally the frustration and laughter give way to tears. My son, is one of the most treasured people in my life and I am not sure he realizes his importance. Be it youth. Be it a preoccupation with other things and people, I do not know. But, wow. The time where he was just a little thing is gone. He is almost full-grown. A man. Surreal. He will be beginning his life’s journey into the world soon. I pray that we have done all that we could to prepare him for what the world will throw at him. And, in my prayers, God reminds me…
That God looks at us in the same way. That He has been there for all of the good times, bad times, decisions good and unmentionable, special occasions, simple and lazy days, births, deaths, heartaches, debilitating failures, and soaring successes. I can just imagine Him watching us, in our quiet places, with His tender glance as we are mirroring what He has been teaching. That as we grow, He applauds our obedience and draws us closer into the most comforting embrace. In the times where we choose disobedience, He is downright frustrated, to the point of tears, because He knows who we are meant to be and the consequences of our actions are going to hurt. That His laughter echoes in the heavens at our crazy shenanigans as we twirl, dance, and enjoy His creation.
When we tell Him, “Look! At this accomplishment…At how much growth has occured…At how high on the mountain we are…How low we are in the valley…Our hearts hurt to beat…Each breath is hard to take…We cannot see you through our tears…” He reminds us. He replies to our celebratory proclamations and tearful pleas simply…
I am watching.
I am with you.
I have never nor will I ever leave you.
You are growing and changing into who I always knew you were.
You are MY child.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not de dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
And, just like that, He reveals one more part of His heart. I am in awe. Accompanied. Strengthened. Helped. Upheld. Always.
We all are.
What a beautifully awesome picture of grace, love, patience, faithfulness, and family.
Happy 17th Birthday month, son. May you always be reminded that you are a child of God, a co-heir with Jesus Christ. That you are, from the beginning to the end, spoken for, loved, appreciated, treasured, and held.
What a wonderful opportunity we had to share, grow, and serve with this summer’s teams. God revealed so much of Himself through the selfless saints that left their homes and families to come pour out the love of Christ and themselves on a mountainside.
Medical clinics, Vacation Bible Schools, crafts- OH! the crafts, food bags, a day long shopping trip of love and discovery, hugs, smiles, sunrises over coffee, laughter, prayers, hands held, arms raised high, love spread, physical walls built, emotional walls torn down, tears of joy and revelation, sunsets over coffee, plans to return , plans to grow and blossom more intentionally where God has planted.
Planting seeds of faith and pine trees. Establishing family ties and those truck bed rides up, down, all around!
A taste of the true freedom that we have in Christ and the thirst for more, much more.
A season of rain and a muddy trail. Similarities shown brilliantly with the differences all but forgotten in the shadow. An opening of eyes and hearts.
A remembrance of our humanity- that we are all one family. The rag tag, broken, forgiven, redeemed, ADOPTED sibling group known as the Children of God.
Praise Him! His is ALL of the glory!
We look forward to our next family reunion!!
When we returned to Guatemala, it was May 10. I genuinely did not know the significance of the day when I booked the flight back, but it became very clear once we landed. Posters, decorations, signs, and people, all declaring that indeed May 10, in Guatemala is “la dia de madre”! Mother’s Day! I did chuckle. God is so good! I did not miss the opportunity to wish my momma friends in Guate a very happy Mother’s Day! We did, actually have a last minute dinner with the sweet widow that we rent our home from. What a beautiful picture of love and God’s grace. What a sweet whisper from our Lord, into my heart. Of His love. It was just a few short days later that I was able to wish all of my American mommas a very Happy Mother’s Day- mostly through social media. Those long distance hugs, although not as warm to the touch, are still powerful and mighty comforting!
Brownies are my favorite dessert that will never solicite an answer of no. Ava knows this and the picture below is what my US Mother’s Day breakfast looked like. I just love her sweet little heart and how she speaks volumes with her acts of kindness and selflessness.
On our way out to the Mission House a day or so later, I snapped the picture below. I love how the sun shining on the mountain looks like a heart. You may need to squint a bit or scoot back from the computer to see it, but it is there. A heart. I love how God reveals bits of His heart to us. If we are not careful, we can miss the small revelations and sometimes, even the big ones. The world will tell us the lies that we are not important, that we have no value, that we are insignificant. But, God is constantly whispering. Seeking you. Wanting you to draw nearer. For you to see what He has for you. Wanting to give us all of those things that our hearts are yearning for. Those things that we may have never put words or requests to. He knows.
I had a distinct yearning to share more of Him with ladies that I work close with here, in Jalapa. God provided the curriculum for a Bible study for the ladies, here on the ground, while I was in Florida. Thank you, to the obedient saint that said yes when I asked for the financial partnership. (You know who you are) This month, we begin the Finding I Am study by Lisa Terkeurst. I am over the moon and cannot wait to see what God has in store for us as a team of ladies laboring to bring Him glory. To draw closer to Him. To rest in His arms. To hear His heartbeat more clearly.
I would be amiss to not share the new addition to our home in this update as well. I would like to introduce you to Cocoa…Ava’s goat. I guess when in Guatemala…(laughing). She is just a baby and Ava loves her. This is my first goat. I genuinely have no idea what to expect. Ruby (our healer mix) thinks that this new addition is indeed her baby and has taken her in as such.
Even my sweet dog has that momma heart that knows no boundary for a youngling that needs love and care. I cannot help but love this sweet adoption happening right in front of me. No questions. No complaints. Just unconditional love. Isn’t this what we are all called to do? Isn’t this where sometimes, we over think and complicate the whole process? Simplicity is best, the Momma Heart that beats mightily understands this. Our human hearts fail under our own understanding.
But, the Father’s Heart knows no failure or equal. Open to His children with all of the bestest love, compassion, empathy, patience, and joy. He is just waiting for us to see that His arms are open wide for us to run into. Waiting for us to find more of Him. To hear His heartbeat. Can you hear it?