Sunday, August 25, 2013

11 years

I think Paul summed it up best as we walked around Meijer last evening while on our "anniversary date."


"I think what I like best about being married for 11 years is that we can walk around Meijer, and not have to worry if the other person thinks it's lame.  Because we both are comfortable enough with each other that just hanging out in a store is enough for us.  We want to make each other happy, and we strive for that, but we're past having to try to impress each other."

And for us, that is just right.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lifesong Mission Moment

13-8 MM Email


Thankfulness. We honored to stand beside so many of you in your faithful service to God and His call to love and care for the orphan. Join us in praising God for the work that He continues to do through the Church!

Listen in on HIS provision in Honduras and the opportunity to join the work through sponsorship...

Centro Vida Construction Complete // HONDURAS

Please enjoy this video featuring Honduras' brand new multi-purpose building, Centro Vida, which includes assembly space as well as a large kitchen. This building is just part of the incredible work going on in Honduras to equip over 575 vulnerable children & young adults with not only the Gospel, but hope for a future!
It's exciting to see Centro Vida's completion on Plan Escalon's 25th anniversary of serving orphans and vulnerable children.

Want to see more updates at Plan Escalon? Check out the kitchen renovation video thanks to the amazing help from our partners at Retail Orphan Initiative.


You Matter to Me // CHILD SPONSORSHIP

When choosing a sponsor child, Vicki noticed that Lesly was an older student, but in a younger grade. Vicki intentionally chose to sponsor Lesly, understanding that something had happened in her life to cause her to fall behind. She wanted Lesly to know she cared and believed in her.
Listen in as Vicki, member of Retail Orphan Initiative, meets the students she sponsors at Plan Escalon and the impact that it is making not only in her heart, but in the heart of her sponsored children...


Read more about Child Sponsorship...

What Child Sponsorship is All About -- Beautiful story of a sponsor child moved to tears and prayer when he heard that his sponsor was in a car accident. Read more

Be a Light Through Sponsorship -- Read a post from Lifesong's summer blog series featuring Sponsorship. Read more

Dear _____, I love you. -- JB, student at Lifesong Liberia, wrote to a sponsor he did not yet have. Fill in the blank for JB! Read more

"I will not stop serving the Lord" -- Watch the testimony of the life of Haggai, student of Lifesong Zambia. Watch Video

Breaking the Cycle in Ukraine -- Natasha's life and future was changed by the mentorship she found through Lifesong Ukraine. Watch Video to hear her story.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Home, and where we think it is

For the first 20 years of my life I lived in the same house.

Same yard, same neighbors, same street.

There was security in the sameness.

And then I got married and in the next decade moved 5 times.  Home, for a long time, was a place, a structure that did not move.



I am fighting against the thought that home is not that at all.  There is a part of me that wants home to be that house.  That place that will always be there and always be the same.

But when you move from one place to the next, you've got to redefine what home is.  Otherwise, you'll never be home.

This past year has caused me to stretch my thinking in that regard.  To realize even more that "this world is not my home, I'm just passing through."

I realized the other day that several of our missionary friends have all made major moves in the last couple months.

From America to Ethiopia

From Illinois to Michigan for Campus Crusade (with a newborn!)

From Senegal to America (on furlough) and then soon on to Jordan

From Michigan to Indiana to Missouri for missionary training

From America to Zambia

No doubt all of these families have had to grapple with the idea of home, and where exactly it is.  We were made to desire security and a place to call our own.  And I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to scratch out a place for ourselves on this planet.

But when we place more stock in this world, than where we are going next, well, our perspective is sorely out of focus.

My security does not lie within these walls that surround me.

Our security needs to be placed in the One who holds our future, and has promised to prepare a home for us.  So that someday we can be where He is.
 
May we all turn our eyes to our eternal prize, and remember that we are

not

home

yet.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  Hebrews 11:13-16

Guest Blogging - Praying God's Word Over Our Children

A dear friend of mine, whom I've known for over a decade, has a blog that calls each of us parents to daily prayer for our children.  I have so enjoyed reading her daily posts and following along with her throughout this year as we pray scripture over our kids.

On Friday, she asked if I could guest post on her blog.  My most recent post about Hannah heading of to Kindergarten was part of it.  

I highly recommend checking out her blog, and join us in being prayer warriors for our children.

Thanks, Renee, for the opportunity!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Note to Hannah

Last year at this time Owen was heading off to Kindergarten.

And now, following on his heels, Hannah is heading off to Kindergarten this year.





Although I am having similar feelings that I did last year, they do vary a bit.  Obviously I've done this before.  Second child syndrome perhaps, but the trepidation of sending Hannah into something new isn't as extreme, especially since she gets the same wonderful teacher that Owen had last year.

But I still have that concern of sending her off into a classroom of peers.  It brings back all of my own feelings of inadequacy, and wanting other to like me, and trying to find my place among all the other kids.

As I've said in another post, we often focus on making sure our kids find their value in God's eyes, and not in another human's favor.  It seems like they get it.

They get it in the safe, comfortable place of home.

But I think of all those unknowns for Hannah, those things that I went through that I really don't want her to experience.  I don't want to see her hurt.  I cringe of thinking of that day when someone verbally tears her down for something that at one point she cherished about himself.  Causing her to doubt everything about herself that at one time seemed so sure.

I want her to be equipped with the knowledge that I have now, after having gone through it myself.

But truthfully, those lessons are often learned through personal experience, and not because someone has told you.

Hannah,
You are a treasured child of the King.  The world is going to tell you that you are going to lose, but take heart - THEY DON'T KNOW THE RULES.

Don't take it personally when some kid makes fun of your quirky clothing choices or the stuffed animal that you brought in for show in tell or call you some name that brings tears to your eyes.  They only call you that to make their own selves feel better.  There is something about you that threatens them.  And by calling you out on your 'lameness' somehow makes them feel like you are back to their level.

I want you, Hannah, to be sure of yourself, knowing God has created you as a unique individual, with unique qualities and tastes.  The best person you can be is YOU, not an imitation of someone else.

People's valuation of you should not matter, only God's valuation of you should.  Measure yourself by his ruler, by His Word, not by the measuring stick of your peers.

Love God, show others God's love, despite their actions toward you.  Remember, you don't need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends that you can be certain of.

There will always be someone richer, cooler, smarter than you.  That's just life.  But there will also be others who are poorer, wallflowers, back of the class.  That's life, too.  But God doesn't play favorites and you shouldn't either.  Treat each peer as an equal, someone who is loved by Jesus, and in need of Jesus' love.

THIS is what I want you to know before you go to Kindergarten, Hannah.  It would save you a world of heartache.  But I know you, like me, will have to discover this for your own self.  I can only hope you figure it out sooner than I did.


You are so excited to start school and I love your excitement for learning.  May it continue to grow and to motivate you to learn more, not only about your world, but about others, about God, and about who you can be for Him.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

July Lookback

Maddie and her friend, Elliott.  I could not get them to both look at the camera at the same time.

If my lack of pictures from July is any indication...well...July was, um, July at Gateway.  Lots of stuff going on, my camera was pushed to the wayside, and here we are in August.  But school is on the horizon, and hopefully a breather will come with it.  

Just a few precious days of summer left with Owen and Hannah before they head off to school...sniff.

Fort building.  This one blocked all access to the bathroom and bedroom.  
Had to do a trek over the couch to get there.
Hannah has learned to ride a bike!

Ultimate Frisbee on Sunday afternoon.  A Gateway summer tradition

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The End of a Long Goodbye

I knew the day was coming, and it was inevitable.



I knew there was going to be the last evening meet-up for Applebee's half-price appetizers.

The last time walking the Gateway track after the sun went down

The last time sitting by each other in church

The last time I went over to her house for a chat

There were a lot of 'last times' and they stretched over months.

But tonight.  Tonight was the end of the good-byes.

I was thankful to have been lucky enough to sit by her in church this morning.  Sing Fellowship of the Saints and read verses like Psalm 46: God is out refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.  All words that take on a different meaning when you are sitting beside your friend who is ready to embark on a life across the ocean.

So tonight we enjoyed a little time with the Wiegands.

A little hang-out in the empty auction tents.

It was a little windy...
A lap around the Gateway track.

Some homemade ice cream from Grabill Country Sales.

This one is for you, Carrie.

Enjoying one another's company.  Savoring the final moments.

We are so very thankful for Erik and Carrie and their friendship.  Thankful for their Godly example.  Thankful that we have known them and get to be a part of their support system over here.  Our loss is Zambia's gain.
Our little gifts from the Wiegands - prayer reminders!

We love you, Wild Wiegand's, and our prayers go with you!

A nice one...

A goofy one...

And finally a group hug.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lifesong Mission Moment

13-7 MM Email

Lifesong Farms. Through the partnership and expertise from our friends at Plant Sciences, Inc., jobs have been created for in-county orphan caregivers and orphan graduates who are transitioning into adulthood. The goal of Lifesong Farms is to not only benefit these individuals with employment, but also to establish sustainable businesses to help fund on-going orphan care.
Enjoy these updates from Lifesong Farms in Zambia and Ukraine...

"OUR LIVES HAVE BEEN CHANGED..." // Zambia


Because of the faithful work of our 16 farm ladies, we have been able to grow and sell berries to local grocery stores. More important than the berries sales, it is exciting to provide employment opportunities for these women, many of them widows, who care for multiple children.

Zambia Employment page


BERRIES SOLD IN GROCERIES // Ukraine

Sales 9

Strawberries from Lifesong Farms-Ukraine are now in 5 different grocery stores in the Kharkov area. Sergei (pictured) and Andrei, both Lifesong graduates, have done an excellent job heading up this project. It's been amazing to watch these two young men, once behind orphanage walls, grow in their relationship with Christ and develop the skills to become successful businessmen. We are thankful to give opportunities to not only these two young men, but over 100 graduates who are employed through Lifesong Farms and other opportunities.

READ MORE...

First Harvest is In! - Lifesong Farms-Ukraine share pictures and thoughts from their first harvest this year. Read More

Brush to Berries - Listen in to how Lifesong Farms got started in Zambia. Watch Video

A Growing Potential - Orphan graduates, Andrei and Sergei, receive intentional and godly mentorship through Lifesong Farms. Read more

Sustainable Business - Learn more about Lifesong's sustainable business efforts in Ukraine, Zambia and Honduras.  Read More