Friday, December 07, 2012

Blessed through the Family of Christ

This month has been a difficult one for us financially (and for me, physically!). It started with a toothache that quickly turned into a pain in the neck. But I since Steve has had steady work for the past few months, I wasn't too worried. At least we had insurance--or so I thought! It turns out the waiting period for benefits coupled with poor coverage left us footing the bill for a couple of fillings and a very expensive root canal. And, as usual, my holiday spending put us in a real bind wondering if we'd be able to meet our obligations this month. So I asked for prayer through our ministry Facebook page. Below is a card we received today in response to that posting.

Dear Steve, Kelly & Nick,
[Our daughter] keeps me posted on you somewhat. She recently mentioned your dentist problem, Kelly, and the huge expense this adds to your budget. I'm enclosing a check to help you with your finances.
I'm so glad I got to meet you when I was in Honduras a few years ago. God bless you! 
The check she enclosed enables us to make the first payment on the dental bill and is such a blessing to our family. Thanks to this gift and the many prayers we know have been uttered on our behalf, a weight is lifted off our shoulders and our hearts are singing renewed praises to the God who is faithful to His promises!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

No More Mr. Nice Guy

So many of our friends with secular worldviews admire Christian values. They give to the poor, support their neighbors, make personal sacrifices for the good of others and are kind to outcasts. And if you were to ask these do-gooders about Jesus, they would admit that He was a nice guy, maybe a prophet--even a great moral teacher. But God? No, that's ridiculous.

It's popular today to think of Jesus like the Dali Lama or Oprah. He was peaceful, innocent, friendly, a master of PR and even performed a few magic tricks. This ideology permeates our culture today. Archeology, ancient texts and the wide variety of witness testimony make it nearly impossible to contest the historical figure of Jesus. He most certainly lived. And He most certainly had a significant impact on the ancient world that continues today. It is absurd to argue these points based on what we now know. But was He the Son of God?

Here's the biggest problem with this "Mr. Nice Guy" ideology: How can a man be of outstanding moral character--a role model for all of humanity--and be a liar? Jesus repeatedly claimed to be God. It's a contradiction. Reason says that Jesus could not have been the honorable, honest, humble human without also being the Messiah.

So, who was Jesus? There is only one logical conclusion. Jesus was and is Lord. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Just Say "No!"

Early on during our Home Ministry Assignment, we sat down with some fellow missionaries to get their advice on raising support. And one of their pearls of wisdom has really paid off for us. We were complaining about feeling like the credit card collection company because no one ever returned our phone calls. Talk about feeling like an pariah! Their advice? Just keep calling.

See, sometimes we forget that what is so important to us―the thing that occupies our thoughts and fills every waking moment―is just a little task on someone else's to-do list. To most people the phone call that requires every ounce of courage we can muster to make barely registers as a blip on their busy day. They may be interested in hearing more about or even supporting our ministry, but it rarely crosses their mind. Making time to call back just isn't a priority when there's dinner to make, a softball game to get to and a favorite television program to watch. So, we determined not to take it personally and definitely not to take unresponse as a a negative response. We just keep calling and leaving messages―often for months―until they tell us to stop it.

I guess you could say we are the experts when it comes to nagging. And as annoying as it may sound, as a strategy it actually works! On more than one occasion, after weeks of messages and e-mails, we finally get to talk to an actual person only to find out that they've "been meaning to" call us back. Often we end up getting meetings and even supporters thanks to our perseverance. So we just keep calling....over and over...over and over.

Still, I can't help but wonder what people think when they get their 15th voicemail message. Maybe you think we're worse than the telemarketers, more persistent than a survey taker or that we're just desperate (you're probably right on all accounts). Maybe you don't want to hurt our feelings or want to avoid an awkward conversation. Or maybe we've just fallen to the bottom of that growing to-do list.

If you are actually avoiding us, let me advise you that there are only two ways out of the aggravating call-and-repeat cycle:

  1. Answer the phone and agree to meet with us. Hear God speak to your heart and become a part of His plan for Honduras

  2. Answer the phone and politely, but very clearly JUST SAY "NO"!
We thank you for your patience and understanding...and also for freeing up our time to annoy someone else for a while.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Holding Pattern

Classes are over. Nick's visiting grandparents. Steve's at work. And I'm...well...what am I doing these days? This blog is supposed to be about my crazy, chaotic adventures of being a mother, wife, professional and wanna-be missionary. But lately the most interesting thing that's happened to me is my flip-flop falling off my foot and dropping off our third-story balcony (and I think I may have done that on purpose out of pure boredom).

That's the funny think about where we're at right now. Oh, sure we have meetings every night this week, contacts to follow-up with, Spanish to study...and blogs to write....but I'm spending most of my waking hours waiting for something important to happen. It's like being in a permanent holding pattern. You're certainly busy flying the plane, but you're not really going anywhere. You can see your destination circling below, but the tower's telling you to standby. You're just waiting for change.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Missionary's Heart

A Conversation with Nick--A Glimpse of the Missionary Heart

Nick: Everyone at school says the world is going to end in 2012.

Me: That's fine by me. I can't wait to be in heaven with the Father.

Nick: But what about all those people who haven't accepted Jesus yet?

Wow. We are blessed to have a kid with such a heart for the lost.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

HMA - A Blessing, Not Prison Sentence

Our current missionary status is "Home Ministry Assignment" or HMA. Essentially, that's a missionary furlough. We're here in the United States raising support until we're fully funded and can return to Honduras. To us (and maybe to some of you too) it sometimes feels like we're in waiting to get sprung from the pokey by some rich uncle we didn't know died last month.

But if we take God at His word (and that's always a prudent way to go), then He has some purpose for this time in our ministry (Jer. 29:11). Obviously, missions takes money. But God is not poor and if He wanted to resurrect that rich uncle to bail us out, He could. So money must not be the ultimate goal, right? Then why are we still here? 

Well, here's 10 ways we believe God is using this HMA:
  1. To give us time to prepare. Both Steve and I have had the opportunity to attend Bible classes that have allowed us to grow spiritually and will enable us to better minister to the people of Honduras.
  2. To draw us closer to one another. I've learned that staying engaged with Nick has been much easier now that I'm not away at work all the time. Even though he's growing up fast, I can't think of a better time in his life than his teenage years to be available to him. How great it is to be able to pick him up from school and ask how his day was!
  3. To allow us to build relationships with others. We learned quite unexpectedly how important it is for a missionary to have strong partner relationships while away in the field. We really missed out on the encouragement, support and comfort that these friendships provide--and we're not about to make that mistake again!
  4. To build our prayer support. Almost every day we meet people that want to pray for us and the ministry of El Sembrador. Not only is that encouraging, it's vital!
  5. To teach us to depend on Him. Nothing teaches faith like having no income, no work and no place to live. We have been so blessed and we have no reason to fear that He'll back down now.
  6. To let us serve the church. We understand that the true purpose of the church is not to feed the flock but to bring in more sheep. A missionary relationship can help hold the church accountable to the Great Commission. More than that, we give each and every person we talk to real opportunities to become personally involved in missions.
  7. To be blessed by the church. We've really come to appreciate our home church and the churches we visit. Trust me, there's nothing like hearing the Word taught in your native language. And we've been overwhelmed by the support and service these churches have shown our family
  8. To minister to others. We've been giving so many opportunities to minister in so many ways. From teaching ESL to participating in the annual bike ride for camp and everything in between, we've been privileged to serve in our own country alongside our own people--and who can complain about that!
  9. To give Nick a real high school experience. Since we homeschool Nick when we're in Honduras, this time has given him a chance to enjoy the life other teens might take for granted. And he's not letting the opportunity go to waste! High school plays, marching band, driver's ed and his active youth group keep him pretty busy.
  10. So we can be with our family. We've really felt God's hand in the timing of this HMA when it comes to being with our family. We've finally spent a little time with a niece we barely knew and gotten to spend quality time with our parents. We've been able to grieve losses and celebrate marriages together. Knowing that we won't always have these opportunities while in the field, we have been truly blessed by this precious time with our family.
So when we stop imagining of this time as the prison sentence we have to serve before we're the bars clank open and we're finally free to return to ministry, we can appreciate it as the true blessing that it really is and praise God for His divine plans.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Climbing the Language Barrier

    Without a doubt one of the most difficult challenges we faced while living in Honduras was the language barrier. Not being able to communicate can be really frustrating. And let's face it. Sitting through a two-hour church service in a completely foreign language and pretending to be totally engrossed in it the entire time can give even the most devout follower a severe case of the yawns.

    So not speaking Spanish was a huge disadvantage for our ministry. That's what we thought at first. But then we started to see some unexpected benefits to our language deficiency.

    • We had to find other ways to express ourselves. Often that involved hilarious hand gestures that confused more than they helped. But when students greeting us with friendly waves and giving us hugs after church, we knew that we'd somehow been able to demonstrate our love for them.
    • We learned to laugh at ourselves. You can't really take yourself too seriously when you're likely to tell someone they're a good horse when you meant to compliment their friendliness.
    • We let others laugh at us. Nothing ingratiates a person into the world of teenagers like letting them double over in laughter at your expense and chuckling right along with them.
    • We let ourselves be taught. Our kids loved having something that they could teach us. They were the experts and we were their favorite students.
    • We were at our students' mercy. And they knew it. Sure we were taken advantage of sometimes. But putting ourselves in such a vulnerable position helped foster a true connectedness we might not have been able to develop otherwise. We weren't perfect--we had weaknesses just like them.
    • We had to study. Honduran students aren't really taught good study habits and skills (at least not until they come to El Sembrador). Seeing us with our notebooks and study notes and giving them the opportunity to critique our work was a great way to demonstrate our commitment to learning and teach some valuable skills at the same time.
    Yes, there were long staff meetings where we didn't understand a word. And yes there were times of miscommunication and confusion. And there were probably serious discipleship opportunities we missed. But I think if we had to do all over again, we'd still risk climbing the language barrier with the help of our new friends at El Sembrador.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Why Do Missionaries Raise Support?

    This is one of the most common question people have asked us. And the answer is actually pretty simple.

    Raising support is Biblical.
    Look at the examples we're given. Jesus traveled and got by mostly due to the generous provisions given by His followers. Even more evidence regarding Jesus' philosophy of support raising is given when He sends out the 12 (Matt. 10:9-15) and again when He sends the 72 (Luke 10:1-7). Paul shows us the original use of a support letter in 1 and 2 Corinthians. He even tells the church how to collect it (1 Cor. 16:1-2)! 

    But wait there's more...
    Raising support is not begging. It's taken me a long time to wrap my brain around this idea. But it finally stuck one day when I complained to an elderly missionary with decades of experience that I was too timid and embarrassed to ask some people to support our ministry. He stood up and looked me straight in the eye. And with his wrinkled finger wagging directly in front of my nose he yelled, "How dare you steal that opportunity for God to work in someone's life! It isn't about you!" 

    He's right, of course. It's all about Him. And if He's brought someone into my life, I owe it to God to let myself be used. He'll use his people and His money according to His will and I'd better get out of the way if I think otherwise.

    Now that you know...
    Here's your chance to let God use you to bless our ministry in Honduras. Click here.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012


    It's hard enough to present our ministry to potential supporters without the added embarrassment that comes from just being prone to calamity and general stupidity. Trust me. This is something I am all-too familiar with these days.

    This week we were invited into the home of a pastor and leader of a young adult program to discuss ways we could partner with them in ministry. I mean we're talking serious God-business here. Leave it to me to find some way to humiliate myself and come off looking like a complete idiot. And the worst part? I didn't even realize I'd done it until hours later.

    I've been told that I'm not a bad public speaker. I'm not sure I agree with that, but there are times where I can just feel that I've got the rapt attention of the entire audience. Smaller groups are a little harder for me to judge, but in this case everything seemed to be going according to plan. Everyone was at least looking in my general direction and pretending to listen. You really can't ask for more than that. Of course, being the center of attention is always a welcome place to be for my over-inflated ego. I mean, let's face it, humility is not really one of my gifts. So, for well over an hour we talked and plotted and planned, with my big mouth dominating the conversation. Yep, in my book it was going well.

    And as we walked to the car and made our way home, I was pretty much in high spirits--certain that we'd made a good impression and represented the ministry well. That's when the Lord decided He'd had quite enough of my self-satisfaction and put me squarely in my place. That's when I looked down and discovered that my blouse was on inside-out. And not just inside-out, but really, really obviously so. The overly-large seams poked awkwardly from either side. The cute bow on the front caused a strange lump on my chest area and the long plastic loops that are intended to help you keep your clothes neatly hung, instead flopped down my arm from the shoulders. That's right. I did an entire presentation looking like I just dressed myself for the very first time. Hello awkward realization. Goodbye dignity.

    Immediately, I was reminded of the verse in James--"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Consider me properly humbled. Thank you God for not letting me take myself too seriously!