Growing up in rural Kansas you begin to understand that the farm life drives the culture. I didn’t grow up a farm girl, and believe me when I say I am not the one to talk to about details. What I do know though is that in Kansas you have to know about the harvest. It’s apart of the conversation. No matter your day job, you better understand when planting time is. You better know when harvest is, because most of the peoples lives are on hold while it happens. You better understand the long hours in the day, and the dynamics of being a farm wife, and a farm family. You better understand the pride that comes from a hards day work, the sweat, and the tears that happen before that flour is set happily inside your pantry.
Our family gets that, so here we are in Costa Rica— sitting in the middle of Central America. We haven’t got a clue where to start. We started language studies and yet still feel so far away from the people here. I know it’s only been a week, but we earn to have connections with people. Saturday we ventured out to take on a new understanding of harvest, not wheat harvest, not cotton, and not corn— coffee harvest. It’s harvest time here and there is a culture that is brewed on the very beans we Americans so often take for granted.
I wanted to take a few moments to share some things we learned, not that we are an expert and the ways that God spoke to me yesterday— reminding me He is here and He is always training us, equipping up for his work.
Did you know it takes 3 years to prepare a coffee plant for harvest?
The coffee plant actually spends the first year in the nursery becoming strong. Then the small plant is rooted in its home, but it’s not expected to produce. It takes two years in it’s new soil to be strong enough.
To me it was a beautiful reminder that our own discipleship and spiritual growth takes time. What a coincidence that our family spent one year in our home country growing during iteration, and that God will train us the next two years at missionary associates. I can take a deep breath and know that God is using this time to grow our roots deep, and our branches strong during this time. He is preparing, equipping us for the time ahead.
Did you know that although coffee beans look the same, there is subtle differences that create unique tastes?
It’s too easy to look at a coffee bean and think they all look the same, so they must all taste the same. Time, temperature, soil all effect the flavor incased in that very unique little fruit. Our culture, who we are, is defined by so many things. We often looks similar, but when we take time and breath in— we realize that we each are encased with our own sweet flavor developed with our own unique blends of time, temperature, and soil.
Did you know that coffee bean must be hand picked, one at a time?
Although many beans grow on a single branch, they don’t all ripen at the same time. A person must hand pick each brand, so that only the red ones are pulled. Too often in our culture we think that Jesus is a one size fits all. That if we just read, and preach to the masses everyone will get saved. We cast out our nets and see what we catch. Discipleship and reaching the lost requires us be coffee harvesters. It means we need to be intentional about how we approach our evangelism and never try and push (or pick) someone or something that is not yet ripe enough for the harvest.
I think I could go on and own about our time at the plantation. The stories I learned, the culture that is slowing revealing itself. It was worth investing in the time to understand this warm home brewed cup of coffee I am drinking this morning. It was worth seeing all the ways that God reveals himself. We will never fully understand people or the places that we travel, but we can try. We can immerse ourselves into this culture, build connections that make way for a conversation and those conversations that start to build relationships.
It’s harvest season here in Central America. Can you pray for the harvest?
Grasping at Minutes
My son is at the school right now saying good-bye to his friends. Laughing and grasping at minutes to make just a few more memories. This mom's heart is tearful and tearing, praying that God will hold his heart within the next few months. I wish I could say at this moment that I was without worry. I wish I could say that I boldly march into the next few weeks with no fear. I feel that is what people are expecting us to say.
Just today alone Zander has been asked at least 5 different times, "Are you excited?" I see his little jaw get a little tighter and he looks back to smile and says, "Yes...." Inside the car he looks at me at says, "Mom, I'm nervous." And I pause, and think for a long second... "That's okay, bub. It's okay to be nervous- to be scared."
I wonder when did we ever start teaching that being brave meant not bearing any other emotion. The actual Webster's dictionary says brave means "ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage." When did we start believe showing courage meant not being scared? Over 80 times the Lord reminds us in the bible to not be scared. It's a beautiful reminder to me that even the legends called by the Lord needed gentle affirmations.
Courage Takes Heart.
Faith is not being without fear. Faith is moving in spite of fear. Eventually, I believe Faith will drown fear out. Faith is allowing love to compels us to move forward. Real faith and courage comes from learning to live like him, for allowing our hearts to break or to be filled with joy. As we draw closer to him, aren't we suppose to be like Christ? My Savior filled his heart with a love for humanity, to save a world that was lost. Our emotions keep us human and serve as a reminder to the one who came to save us and to save those who are around us.
I know I'm rambling on, and really I just needed a mom moment. I needed to take a deep breath and realize that these steps we walk are scary. It's total faith and abandonment. What will it be on the other side? Who knows.... but I do know who goes with us through this.
If my God can part the rivers, protect his children through fire, provide food in the desert--I know that His eyes are alway watching over and protecting us.
And in terms of bravery. Bravery means that we are ready. No matter the feelings, no matter the moments- the fear, the excitement, the nervousness-- we are ready and because we are ready we are brave.
I'm sitting in this boat and I'm rowing. I'm rowing further and further away from the shore. It's our past- our current life that we are moving further away from. I can see all of our friends, our family, our mentors, and co-workers. I see them all. When our family started this journey, it was like they waved good-bye. They stood and cheered us on. We began rowing our little boat of faith. Eventually though those on the shore, they have to go back to their lives. The can't stand and wave at us forever. We gradually watch more and more people move on as we move out of site, rowing. We row, pulling and pushing. The waves at times are high and the current is sometimes so strong, but we still are rowing. Kelly and I can see the next destination and we know without a doubt God has called to this new place and we still are rowing. Row, Row, ROW!!! And then a moment like this Sunday happens and I hear God say, "Hand me the oar."
Crazy-- I'm sure that's what some of you think about this journey. I can remember so clearly the moment that I heard God say it was time to take this crazy journey. I remember talking to Kelly and us starting this journey together. I color code it and planned it. I have charts, and trend lines. And, I keep rowing. We have seen GOD move in so many ways as we keep moving further and further away from the life we know. You see God needed us to faithfully step in the boat. Stepping into the boat was an act of faith. He needed Kelly and I to begin to row. Rowing away is yet another act of faith. And now we are in the middle of this ocean, caught between two worlds. How do we take our eyes off of the life we know, in exchange for the life of uncertainty
In my mind, I've still remained in control. Yes, I'm in the boat, but it's our hands on the oars. It's our hands that are rowing. You see though growing closer to God is not the result of trying harder, it's the act of surrendering more and more until you have given up all control. For us type A's this is a hard move-- to quit rowing and hand Him the oars. God moves in such gentle ways. First calling us to the boat, next asking us to row- but eventually you hear him say to let go and as he asks for total surrender. "Let go of your control, let go of knowing every detail. Take a rest awhile and hand me the oars. Let me row this."
God quietly grows our faith-- moment by moment. Eventually, you will hand him the oars, but maybe today he is just asking you to stand up and get in the boat.
"Mommy, was that a beautiful prayer?" This has been the question the past week at our home with our daughter, Norah. How does a mother answer such a question? It amazes me that even at such a young age of three, she already yearns to please. She wants to make us happy and even more her Jesus. He is, of course, her "very best friend."
I assure that her prayer is beautiful, because any time we spend time with Jesus he see's it as beautiful. Even though she is three, I see her struggle wanting it to be so "right," that sometimes she chooses not to pray. I think it's something we all struggle with. We get so wrapped up in the words, that we forget the meaning of prayer. Prayer was never intended to be proud, winded, and overly eloquent. Prayer is the love language to our king, to our savior.
Prayer is the very breath we offer him, when we sit in his presence. It's the tears we pour out over our pain. It's the anger we cry out when we don't understand. It's the questions we ask. The praise we give, the worship we sing. There is no less of prayer when it's done with a pure heart. It not the words we try and say, but our hearts being completely humbled before him.
"Yes!, It's a beautiful prayer! Keep praying sister!" He wants to hear from you, to sit with you. He wants to hear about your day, and hear you say that you love him. You have him at "Hello...", You have him at his name. He thinks your beautiful and the words you speak magnify Him. He is just waiting.... Waiting for you to meet him, waiting for you to pray.
I just wanted to share with you what God showed me this morning. I have been reading a daily devotional by Louie Giglio called Goliath Must Fall: Winning the Battle Against Your Giants. Obviously it talks a lot about David and his fight against Goliath and how God gave him the strength and the courage to do something the rest of the Israelites were afraid to do.
Again it has been a while since I have shared anything so I wanted to fill you in on where we are at. We have overcome one of our GIANTS this week, a Goliath to us, we sold our house. As many of you are aware this was something we did not do on our own but with many of you as well; you praying and with God opening up that door. This is such a huge roadblock out of our way so we can now focus on finishing up our monthly and cash budgets. You see when we started this journey we knew it was going to take trusting in God and a lot of stepping outside of my comfort zone to make this possible.
The devotional talked about gaining victory over your comfort zone and refusing to wait for all the pieces to be lined up before making a move. It means being willing to go in a direction that doesn't feel familiar and what matters most is moving in God’s strength instead of our own. I loved this from the devotional as well “remember that faith thrives from discomfort”. So as we continue on in the mission to get to Guatemala, we need to still overcome some “GIANTS” but we know fully that God is in control. We just want to thank you all for your continued prayers and for all the partners we have gained.
I am going to be completely honest and open and real, and well.... what I might have to say may shock you. I encourage you to read it all before you stop at my title.
I sometimes worship the wrong god. Yes, I said it. You heard me right. Recently God has pointed this out to me. You see there are these days that I worship and pray to this pathetic being not capable of shaping the world. He rules from afar. I find myself distant from him. He can't move mountains, and the last thing he would do is answer a prayer. When I worship this god, I find myself in a mood. I worry and I stress. I freak out over the things that a real god would be able to handle. I let my doubt consume me, and I find myself arguing with this pathetic excuse of a god. I am filled with lies. I am trying to figure out plan b, because who knows what this god is going to do. You see sometimes I worship the wrong god.
Then reality happens and God gently reminds me that I have forgotten who he is. I read a quote somewhere that said faith begins with Genesis 1:1. All the faith you will ever need is there. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." When you believe that, that my God/ your God made the ENTIRE universe; that he spoke it into existence- you should have faith to believe anything. I forget this sometimes. The God I worship can bring dry bones to life. He can heal the blind, and part the sea. The God I worship makes cities crumble. He is Alpha, Omega, Beginning & End. He is the Great Almighty.
When I remember who I am actually worshiping, my worries fade. If God can breath life into the dead, he can restore mine. If God can part the sea, can't he put in place the things that we need to move ahead? If he can make a city crumble, why would't he be able to move any obstacle that comes between me and him?
My God is beautiful and powerful, and I am a conqueror in Him. My only struggle is remembering that, and not doubting his ability. God is so much more than I allow him to be, because my own doubts consume me. When I find myself falling prey to the lies of a wrong god, I go back to true worship. I hit my knees and through songs and prayer let his Spirit pour through me. I mediate on verses that renew my spirit. You see the enemy wants us to believe that God is weak, when in fact he is absolute. The father of lies fills our head with this god that isn't capable of kick'n his butt, but in reality his but is already kicked.
My God is worthy to be trusted. My God is loving enough to meet the needs of his children, and my God is defiantly awesome enough to want to be near to me. He is going to do the impossible, because I know he is God that can. I know that he walks with us in this journey because my God loves us that much. Let our prayers be offered up to Him, not some god that we shove in a box. If you find yourself worrying, you too might ask yourself : What god are you praying to?
Zander has taken some time learning about prayer and wanted a way to share. He absolutely loves making his videos and activly being apart of this journey to help those in Guatemala
It seems like it has been forever since I have wrote anything. We took the holiday season off just to focus on spending time with our family and with the Lord. Now that the New Year is here it is time to get back to work on the mission that God has laid on our hearts, the mission of providing HOPE and a brighter future for the children of Guatemala.
The word that has been heavily laid on my heart is TRUST. I knew this from the very time we started on this journey that we had to trust fully on God, for this was not something that we could do on our own.
I love the way that the message translation puts Proverbs 3:5-6 ““Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD ’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. You see when WE try and make things make sense in our minds, and in our own ways, we will fall short of what God has in mind. There are many things that are unknown about our future, but we have a known God that will keep us on track.
Over the next few months we have a lot of pieces that need to come together before we can make the transition to Guatemala. The two big things we need to do are sell our house and finish raising our budget for our mission. Both of these tasks have been very challenging over the last few months. Again we have to TRUST in the Lord, for we do not understand sometimes why things are not going the way WE want them to go. We believe that God has it all under control. We ask for your prayers and for your support as we go through the next few months of the next chapter in our lives.
It has been such a crazy 3 months and we have let our writing fall wayside. How do we begin to explain our lives and this amazing ride that has already begun. I keep racking my brain just waiting, and all I can think of is boats. And then as I continue to pray God just keeps showing me all the ways they point to exactly what our life has been like.
You know that old children's song, "Row, Row, Row your boat?" It's one of the first songs we teach our kids, but I never stopped to wonder why. It's the determination. Rowing is hard, and even harder when it's a team thing- a family thing--a God thing. You see we are coming to realize that when we are in this boat our dreams are in someone else’s hands and His dreams are in ours. It takes endurance to row and lots of training. God continues to remind us to not grow weary (Gal. 6:9), and we must continue to grow and train with God, or we will never have the strength to make it. Pray for us as we continue to row towards His calling in our lives. Row with us as we move toward the shore.
So, we honestly are begining to see what life might have looked for Noah building his boat. No, I'm not talking about the corruption, but seriously-- the looks. Here is a Godly man, and God said, "I need to you to build a giant boat, and I am going to make water fall from the sky, and well it will cover the entire earth......" and we know the story. So, here is Noah doing crazy things because God called him to do some incredibly scary, crazy things-- yet he built it. The last few months we understand the looks from some, and the people thinking we maybe crazy. There is one thing we know though... When God says build the boat- you build the boat. God tells us to do the impossible, becuase he is a God that makes all things possible. Pray for us as we build our boat.
In 1519, Cortés landed in South America to begin his great conquest. Upon arriving, he gave the order to his men to burn the ships. Faith is always easier with Plan B. You see we have His plan and our back up plan. It's easy to retreat when the going gets hard when you have that as an option. It’s our safety net “just in case…” What we fail to do is honestly complete that sentence. We lie to ourselves. If we were honest, we would say, “This is my safety net just in case I get scared.” Our family is burning boats in each moment in this journey: Putting for sale childhood memories, family desires, and things we just genuinly love. God says over and over again, "Do NOT be afraid..." almost 100 times in the Bible and gently reminds us to remain faithful. We prayfully remain faithful with each boat that is burned, knowing He holds our future.
We can not wait to see the shore in this journey, and are so blessed to have so many row with us. Thank you for rowing with us. Pray for 2017 and the many boats that come our way. We will be praying for your boats too!