Timeline

Our missions journey to date has been full of lots of waiting and unknowns. That is sure to continue.

We started to have a clearer picture of what the future might hold in November 2015 when we became members of Wycliffe Bible Translators. December marked the official invitation for us to go to Cameroon. And so, we ended the year with a lot more answers than we started with.

In January 2016, we attended the orientation course, Equip, in Orlando. We learned a lot. Among the lessons we learned that we can plan, but God has the ultimate plan, which may not match ours exactly. Then in February, our Partnership Development (PD) began. We sent out our very first newsletter and began to tell people about what we planned to do (because we finally knew some of those answers!)

Early in March, it became clear that we would have to go to France for language study and so we began researching and learning about that.

As we began to try to learn more in preparation for our move, we were connected with a family in Cameroon and got our buddies in April. (We really do wish this had happened much earlier, maybe if a full year earlier!)

We sent out another newsletter in May and reached the halfway point in our monthly financial partnership promises. This cleared the way for us to attend a required training in NC in the fall.

In June, we decided to attend language school in a small village in the French Alps. From the CCEF, we learned that our classes will start on January 3, 2017.

Now it is July and we are the missionaries of the month at our home church. That means that we are talking in front of the church one Sunday, doing a presentation with some families from our church and that we are being prayed for specifically each Wednesday at prayer.

August and September will be more PD work for us and hopefully our Wycliffe ministry will have a full partnership team. We will send out information to our prayer partners about a specific day to pray for each other each month. We’ve already been praying for each of our partners and this will help us to be more orderly about it. This is also when we will have a garage sale and possibly put our house on the market.

The Intercultural Communication Course (ICC) is another training for Brian and I. So, we will be going to JAARS in NC for the month of October (and one week of November) to study and learn as much as possible to help us in our transition. The plan for the kids is to stay in school and live with their grandparents while we are gone. Brian will likely leave his current job in October as we will be working full-time as missionaries (in training).

We will all need to go to Chicago for a visa interview in November. If all goes according to our plan, we will have our visas in time to leave for France at the end of December 2016. I am also going to try to make a last trip to LA to visit my sister and her new baby girl that should be born at the end of November!

So, January-June 2017, we will be studying French in France and then if everything works according to my plan, we will be fluent and ready to return to the US for a quick visit with family and friends in July 2017. Then we will move to Cameroon by August 2017 so that the kids can start the new school year in our new home.

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Revelations

I am a girl with many questions. I am also a girl who likes to have all the answers. Unfortunately, I am in a really uncomfortable place for me… a place with many unknowns and therefore lots of potential for growth or failure. Failure is my biggest fear. My husband and I have known for a while that God was calling us to go, to serve full-time in ministry. We have been following God’s lead, one step at a time. Last September, when I began the Revelation study with Bible Study Fellowship International (BSF), I was praying for a revelation of my own, where God would answer all my questions about the future. Well, God has made many things clear in this study of Revelation. For me, the biggest revelation has been Jesus! This study has been a Revelation of Jesus first and foremost.

If I have all the answers, I will rely on myself, but God has opened a huge door and called me, my husband and our three kids to go to Yaoundé, Cameroon – francophone Africa. That was one question answered, but it led to so many more questions with so much potential to fail. Every moment, I have to make a choice: will I freak out because the circumstances around me are far beyond my abilities or will I look at Jesus and trust Him.

Revelation has made me focus on Jesus. Each week at BSF, I’ve learned lessons about God’s sovereignty and power to control everything. Jesus is worthy of praise and complete trust too, even in the midst of seeming chaos. Jesus is victorious, king, lamb, lion, sacrifice, worthy, faithful, true, mighty, perfect, bright morning star, holy, above all, reigning, powerful, just, merciful, living, gracious, beckoning… and so much more. As a children’s leader, each week we ask the kids questions after the story. The kids know that the answer is Jesus. We ask: Who is perfect? Jesus. Who judges rightly? Jesus. Who reigns in heaven? Jesus. Who is coming again? Jesus. This is what I needed to be able to understand the book of Revelation. It isn’t about all the symbols and judgement, though that is in there; it is about Jesus.

The very first week from lecture, I wrote down: “Follow God’s dreams, not mine. Don’t focus on what ‘seems’ to be, but on Jesus.” What seems to be is not always what is… It seems like I am in this awful place where I feel so lost and out of control. I am full of fear. I am overwhelmed and failing as a mother, wife, friend, missionary, children’s leader. I see how I am not measuring up and it seems so hopeless.

I am working hard at developing a partnership team and obeying God’s call, and I am tired, but in my weakest moments and when I keep messing it all up, God keeps picking me up and calling me back to Him. God wants me not to focus on me, but on Jesus. I dream of being perfect and having everything just so. God’s dreams will get me there one day, but His dreams are taking me a different way than I’m inclined to go.

So, the biggest lesson I’ve learned was stating succinctly in the intro to this study, and then repeated each week. “Keep your eyes on the Lamb!” When I have my Jesus in sight, my doubts and questions lead me to worship, not worry. With Jesus in His rightful, central place (Rev. 5:6), I say “Yes, Lord” no matter the cost and am able to take the next step forward in faith, not fear. I can see that the wild place (Rev. 12:6) may really be the safest place because that is where Jesus is.

It seems so hard at times. But then, I look at Jesus and I see all that He has done, eternally, for me and I see Him at work, here and now in the little details. My kids are sharing their deep thoughts openly and asking for prayer. My husband is talking to strangers and friends alike, confidently – if you know him, you understand that this is a huge God-act.

Our financially partnership team for our Wycliffe ministry is at over 60% and that is God’s work. I am humbled to be part of what He is doing. God has brought me from not knowing where or what He was asking me to do last September – to clearly calling me and my family to Cameroon in December, to providing what I need, at exactly the right moment for His glory now. I am often full of tears and fears, but God is so gracious and I’m learning to trust Him each moment and to focus on Jesus, following His dreams not mine.

I don’t like being in this uncomfortable place, not knowing all the answers with great risks, but I know Jesus and with Him, I can take the next baby step. I can be bold and look at Jesus. As I confess my self-focus and repent, my focus changes to Jesus. Jesus is the answer for life and for all my questions too!

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The Next Step

While in some ways the waiting to figure out what we are doing is over. In many others, it has just begun. As of November 1, Brian and I became official employees and members of Wycliffe Bible Translators. We are currently in training. We are taking several weeks of online classes and then our family will head to Orlando, FL for two weeks where we will enjoy the warmth and sunshine. Oh, and also attend more classes and training sessions to prepare us for the next step in our adventure.

The immediate next step is to gather a team of people who will partner with us in obeying God’s call for us to go. We need prayer partners and financial partners and those who will encourage us no matter where we go or what we do. We need people to come alongside of us, to lift us up and encourage us, especially when our close family and friends won’t be alongside us physically.

Our first assignment: advocates for the Bibleless peoples of the world and team building. This part will probably be the most uncomfortable for my introverted husband, as we’ll be talking to lots of people and answering questions about the world, and also about our lives and how and why we are doing what we are doing. Which begs the questions: What are we going to be doing?

Well, the short answer we are going to be working with minority language groups to further the cause of Bible translation. Brian will be doing much of the same work that he has done for the past 15+ years. He will be working as a computer programmer, coding and developing tools for others to use. The difference for Brian will be the end result, instead of lining the pockets of Coca-Cola and the like, he’ll be working on programs for linguistics and others involved in Bible (and health, education) translation to use in their work.

For me, after many years of using my linguistics degree to teach ESL, I will be moving in a different (and very welcome) direction. I will be working with a team of linguists to train locals in linguistic fundamentals so that they can work on their own translation projects. I may work in developing dictionaries, writing systems, and/or grammar and text analysis. I am excited about the possibilities as well as doing hands-on linguistics research and language development.

Our kids will be working on all the same things they are now (and hopefully making great progress, especially in responsibility and kindness!) They will be continuing their education at school and playing hard in their free time.

Now, you might be wondering where we will be doing all of this… well, so are we. God is working it all out (we are trusting and praying for that!) and hopefully, we’ll know that by the end of this year. We won’t be going to our next assignment (in that yet undecided location) until we have a great team partnering with us and all the other details are in place – probably at the beginning of 2017.

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Joint Mission

August 12, 2000, Brian and I were married at the church where I’d been working for the summer with the youth. We both knew that we needed to pay off debt before we could go abroad and felt like God was not directing us to go anywhere right away. We decided that in about 5 years we’d go serve God somewhere exotic. Shortly, we found a new church and found a great group of young couples whom we spent lots of time with studying God’s word, praying, playing, and even traveling. We worked (Brian as a computer programmer and myself as an ESL teacher), enjoyed time with friends and served in the church.

After a few years, we looked into Wycliffe again. We had Wycliffe recruiters who lived a few miles from us at that time. But, still God said: Not yet. Another couple years passed, we made some more contacts and looked into different opportunities in France several times over the years with different organizations and contacts. Always it seemed like God said: Not yet.

Before too long, our family began to grow. And, more kids came. We were happy where we were and yet still interested in the opportunity to live abroad, especially since I believed God really had called us to go, at some point. While raising our young kids, Brian continued to be an integral part of the worship team at church and I continued to lead Bible studies for women and teach kids. I also volunteered as an ESL teacher through the Arab-American Friendship Center and then later at the local library. I helped with our local MOPS group for several years where I learned a lot about leading a group, delegating and being humble. At various times, we’d sense God’s call and seek Him more, but each time God said: Not yet.

We just celebrated 15 years of being married with an amazing trip to Turkey. As of a month ago, I still heard God saying: Soon, but not yet. But, very recently, God said: Soon, very soon.

This past year has been one where we became convinced that God was calling us to go, but we weren’t sure where or how. So, we sought the advice of some wise folks and started looking at various opportunities. We talked to lots and lots of missions agencies, organizations and people. We attended some conferences and looked at jobs. We prayed and asked others to join in praying for us. For a few months, it seemed like we were moving along and God was opening doors and directing us, but then it seemed to slow down and even stop completely. God was saying: Wait.

I had a really hard time with that. I did not want to wait anymore. It’s not that I’m in a hurry to move, but I really want to know what the future holds for our family. I want all the answers and I’d like them spelled out in detail before it all happens. But, it was over this spring and summer that God really showed me how to wait on Him and to trust Him. I’d still like to know what lies ahead for us, but I understand that God is sovereign over all and He is at work – around the world so that many will come to know Him and live with Him forever. He isn’t only interested in the short-term, but our eternal futures.

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More or Less

With the start of the new year, 2015, I had every intention of making some resolutions and so on and so forth. But, here it is nearing the middle of February and I am still putting it off in favor of other things to do. Those other things are fun, of course.

I just celebrated my 37th birthday. I would lie and say that I’m 27 again, but my kids keep telling me how old I am and as I’m getting used to hearing it, I’m not as scared as I was by the number that sounds a lot closer to 40 than I ever imagined myself. I still feel 27, and yet I’m a lot smarter and kinder and thoughtful than I was at 27. I think I look pretty close to how I did then, but my eyesight isn’t all that great and I don’t have a lot of time to stand around staring at my reflection in the mirror. So, I could be much prettier.

I think I’ll stick with that version. Smarter, prettier, nicer than ever before.

Let’s hope it just keeps getting better.

Honestly, things don’t get better without a fair amount of work and a decent plan. Now, it’s time to come up with a plan for this year.

More…
This year, I’d like more celebrating the little things. More time spent playing and talking with my family. More relaxing. More working. More thinking of others. More helping. More trust. More clarity. More moving forward. More of God.

Or

Less…
This year, I’d like less complaining and whining (from my kids especially but also from me). Less time wasted on the computer. Less stress over meals and cleaning. Less arguing. Less trying to make myself appear _____ (good, perfect, successful, wise, beautiful, happy.) Less worry. Less doubt. Less figuring things out. Less of me.

The gist is this: more of God and less of me.

That is a pretty lofty goal. And, not very concrete or well-defined. It’s not really measurable or attainable either. But, with God all things are possible. More of God in my daily life might look like more of all the other things I want to see this year. It might also look like what I cannot yet imagine. More of God will definitely look like less of me. More of God might also look like less of things that I might want more of.

So, this year I resolve to pray, serve, teach, love, and live for God and with God, and to forget about me… More or less.

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Dark as Night

I’ve been trying this new thing for the past few weeks. It’s crazy and really unbelievable that I would attempt this sort of thing. I am a woman who values sleep and does not care very much for the morning. I was also a little girl, teenager, young lady, etc. who had strong opinions regarding the high priority of resting until the last possible moment. For some reason, my children (well, my sons) do not share this love for lazy mornings in bed. Over the past several years, I have been awakened quite regularly at a very early hour by a small boy (or two). Just this past month, I decided to stop fighting this awakening and actually get up and enjoy some morning reflection and prayer time. So, I’m getting up when it still dark as night, because it really is still night, as far as I’m concerned, and enjoying a little quiet time reading the Bible, praying, journaling, and occasionally reminding my boys that it’s still night time, which means quiet time. And honestly, it is going great.

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Change Has Come

You won’t be surprised to hear that change can be good or bad. Well, I was ready and even excited for a change in my life. The shock of my new hair was really, well, shocking. My children were not fans of my new boy haircut and I wasn’t really sure how I liked seeing so much of my face – with the signs of aging that have somehow appeared just recently, because they weren’t there the last time I looked. That small change took some getting used to and now my kids actually like my hair and recognize me when I come to pick them up.

I usually love the new year and the promise of a fresh start. I feel the same about each new day. I often encourage myself by reminding my kids as I tuck them into bed that we get to start over fresh tomorrow. This new year has brought a few changes that are taking some getting used to, just like my hair. One of those changes, is actually not a change at all, but a return to our normal schedule. Unfortunately, some of us enjoyed our vacation a little too much… Another change is just temporary, but requires adjustments to be made, as Brian is traveling abroad and we all miss the head of the family.

While change has come, I know that more change will come. I am content with how things are and don’t really want any more change, but life is full of surprises – good or bad.

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Life with School

I imagined that when I had more than one child in school, things would slow down. I would be able to get so much done around the house and provide great meals for our family. I figured that with only one kid, we would be able to have fun and get our work done and also have time for naps or relaxing each day. I don’t know what I was thinking!

As I write this, I’ve just realized that I only have 5 hours of time between the dropping off and picking up times instead of the 8 that I imagined I had. This might explain some of why I’m not as productive and fun as I thought I’d be. In reality, after playing with Josiah until he has to leave for school, Thad and I usually get the grocery shopping done, have one fun outing (like the zoo or park), help out a school (go to a playdate for TJ) and make a few meals each week. Each afternoon, he naps while I work on Bible study or ESL lesson plans or connect with people or maybe do a bit of a house project. Then I wake him up to go get Eila and we go, go, go until bedtime. Each evening is different, but they are all the same too: eating, playing, working, talking, laughing, crying, cleaning, reading, sleeping.

Fall is here and I don’t want to miss it, but it is tricky taking time to enjoy and experience life as we live it. If you have any tips, please share!

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Summer Bucket List

I started this list in early June, but am just now getting around to making it legible…

Here are some things we’ve already checked off the list:
Plant Garden
Pick Strawberries
Make Jam
Go Camping
Watch Race Cars
Play at Beach
Swim with Friends
Attend Car Show
Visit Rouge Factory Tour
Go to Carnival
Visit Zoo

Remaining Fun To Be Had:
Watch Fireworks
Go to MLB game
Attend Foster Care Info Meeting
Have a BBQ
Organize Storage Room
Host a Game Night
Watch Olympics
Visit Hands-On Museum
Hike at State Park
Ride Bikes
Visit Farm (for milk, produce &/or animals)
Work on House Projects
Play Tennis
Visit Titanic Exhibit
Go Putt-Putting
Visit Art Museum
Print Photo Books for Kids
Go Rollerskating
Tour Botanical Gardens
Pick Blueberries
Vacation without Kids!

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Looking Back

Since it’s already the second week of January, I figured I should finally review my year in regards to my resolution to be gracious. Well, I have been mostly successful. I must admit that I had sort of forgotten about it by the end of the year, but the work had been done in me and so the change is there. While, I’m still a perfectionist and would love to be completely right in all ways and at all times, I have learned a bit and am able to extend grace to myself and others, on occasion.

2011 was amazing for our family – with two fabulous vacations (LA and Disney), plus lots of time with our extended families (love them), but it was also hard with unexpected twists (Elizabeth). It was a year of tremendous growth for me personally (PTL!). It was a year full of really good home improvement and decorating ideas (kitchen & living room), and with some actual change in at least one room (boys). This was also a year with a pretty big loss (wedding and engagement ring). 2011 was a year of waiting, and yet there were lots of signs and steps toward where I’m waiting and wanting to go, so I rejoice as I look back.

But, I’m also looking ahead.

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