49 / 52 – The First Sunday
Dec
07

49 / 52 – The First Sunday

On April 26, 2014, our family was standing at the starting line of something we could not ask or imagine.  A year prior to that, the Lord had told me we would go to Ireland.  He told me, but said He wouldn’t tell Branden for a season, to teach me to be quiet (ouch!)  Of course, in my excited stubbornness, I was adamant that I knew the plan (and how and when it should be carried out!)  Branden fought to lead, to protect and provide with all his might and understanding.  And God would wait.

Finally, a year later, we both conceded.  I was learning that the more I spoke, the less Branden could hear the Lord.  God was well able to speak to my husband, without all my “helpfulness.”  And Branden was learning to trust that God had a good plan, better anyway, than the plan he had himself.  And that God could and would take care of us, whatever He called us to.

We knew two things, separately.  I knew we were supposed go to Ireland.  Branden, in his time in prayer, believed the Lord was calling us to oversee a children’s ministry.

“We’ve been praying for a year.  The Lord hasn’t told me ‘Yes’ to Ireland, but He hasn’t said ‘No.’  Maybe it’s time we just take a step of faith.”  Branden’s words were honest, almost defeated, but there was also a looking up.  In throwing up his hands, he was saying he was open.

“What does that even mean?” I asked.  There were no open doors, no one waiting for us to come.  We didn’t even know any churches or ministries in Ireland.

“I don’t know,” he said.  “Maybe we should talk to our pastor.”

The next night, I took the boys to church.  Branden was working a shift at his overnight job.  After service, I sat with our pastor.  He knew that we’d been praying about missions, and that we had been on opposite sides.  I told him what Branden had said.  He told me he didn’t know anyone, any ministries in Ireland, but that maybe I should look in the Calvary Chapel Magazine.  There is a section where churches and ministries can put prayer requests and news.  Maybe there was something there.

I picked up a copy of the magazine and headed home.  Later that night, after the boys were in bed, I sat on the couch by myself.  Flipping through the pages, I found my way to the Ireland section.  There were five or six entries – some churches, some missionaries.  About halfway through was an entry for Calvary Cork.  Their only prayer request – someone to come and oversee their children’s ministry.

I closed eyes in teary disbelief!  Only God could have given each of us both sides of the same map, changed our unwilling hearts, and brought them together.

We sent an email to the pastor of Calvary Cork.  A few days later, we got a response.  The door was open!  We began praying and talking about a scouting trip.  Six months later, October of 2015, we came to Ireland for the first time.  It was then that the Lord finally told Branden we should come back, live and serve here full time.  We got home and began making preparations – selling everything, talking with people and churches about what the Lord was calling us to, getting ready to live in another country.

This October, one year after our scouting trip, the Lord brought us back!

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December 4th was our first Sunday leading the children’s ministry of Calvary Cork!  There’s been much preparation going on since we’ve gotten here.  Branden and I were both really excited and extremely nervous about this first service!  Parents and kids began arriving; the room quickly grew fuller and louder as Branden led the kids in a game.  As service got started, we went through rules and announcements, did praise and worship together, watched a puppet skit, teaching, and object lesson.  Later we divided into smaller classes and did activities and crafts, looked more into the Bible and then came back together to look at a memory verse.

Overall, things went really well I think!  There are some big and small logistical things we are needing to work on, but the kids seemed to enjoy and learn, parents looked pleased, and God’s Word went out!

I heard a quote once about children’s ministry that said, “Kids go where there is excitement.  They stay where they feel loved.”  I hope we provide a place that has both!

I’m thankful for this church, for the Lord’s plan and that it includes us living and serving here, with these families and kids and fellowship!  And I’m thankful for each person and church that is sending us, the global body of Christ, supporting and working together for the purposes of the Kingdom.  He uses the foolish things, and I’m grateful that when we bring what little we have, even through stubbornness, He uses it to accomplish things for eternity!

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I pray that we are faithful, that we remember how the Lord brought us here, that we love and follow and serve Jesus wholeheartedly every day we can.  And I pray that in Him, we love and serve His people well!

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48 / 52 – New Seasons
Dec
02

48 / 52 – New Seasons

www.treuimage.com

Magical things are happening at our house :)

I love Christmas time!  I’m not great at decorating (actually I’m finding just how little I know about it with this new house and all it’s blank spaces!) but I do love the Christmas tree!  A few years ago, maybe four now, I decided to make all of our tree decorations.  About halfway into this endeavor I realized I was way in over my head, but by then it was too late!  I remember staying up late night after night, cutting stacks of felt sheets, collecting pine cones, sewing garland, even recruiting Branden and his trusty glue gun.  Eventually, somehow, it did get done!  We put our tree together that year, carefully dressing it with our crafted ornaments, and I remember stepping back and having this great feeling of satisfaction.  Seeing all the pieces put together – it had been worth it!

When we were getting ready to come to Ireland, there was a good while where we didn’t know how much we could take with us. We sold our tree at a garage sale.  I remember a man standing over it, the branches all boxed up and sitting on the sidewalk.  He asked how much I wanted.  I gave a number.  He bartered.  I compromised.  He paid.  And just like that, I had sold Christmas!

I know that sounds dramatic, but at the moment, that’s exactly how it felt.  Like this thing, our Christmas tree – Christmas and all the sweet, warm, happiness of it in our home, was maybe gone!  What would our life look like in the future?  Would we have a house?  What about our decorations?  Everything, not just Christmas things, was up in the air.

I decided to hang on to the decorations we’d made, at least until we knew for sure we couldn’t take them.  As we moved closer to our time of departure, we figured out the cost of extra suitcases and even shipping things.  I consolidated all of our ornaments into one small box.  They would come with us :)

We do an advent calendar with the boys, basically something Christmasy every day in December as we countdown to the big day.  The first day’s activity is always decorate the tree!  We bought a tree from a second hand store a couple weeks ago.  I didn’t realize how big it was until Branden put it together!  Eight feet high and dozens of unfolded branches later, it was ready for our decorations.  Layer by layer, the four of us circled the tree, carefully nestling each piece into its place.  Gone are the days of little ones proudly clustering all the decoration on one low bough.  Now the boys talk about making triangles with each color, placing ornaments in relativity to each other.

Three hours later (why do I always forget how long it takes?!) our new tree was finished.  Pushed back into the bay window, lights all aglow, it’s now the centerpiece of our sitting room.  And I’m realizing that all the pieces, along with their up in the air feelings, were not overlooked by the Lord.  Handmade tree decorations are not a necessity, but God still gave attention to them. And to my heart that loves this season and wants to make a home for this family.  He is so faithful!

Nov
28

47 / 52 – It’s good to be alive!

So Thanksgiving was a little different this year :)  This was our first major holiday away from family and we were in a country that doesn’t really celebrate it!  We are getting ready to kick off some big things for children’s ministry here at Calvary Cork, so we had a Thanksgiving/Servant Appreciation/share what’s up ahead dinner!  We are honestly so so thankful for those serving in the children’s ministry here.  The need in our church is great and growing and there’s a lot of hard work that goes into serving and teaching kids every week!

I’ve never hosted Thanksgiving before, never had the pressure of preparing the big meal.  Normally we’d be at my parents’ house or traveling to see Branden’s family in Wyoming.  Both places are always filled with good food and great company!  Food prep meant hours in the kitchen, working alongside other women, talking and laughing and just being together.  And Branden would have me add that football would be on!  This year I cheated and had everyone bring food :)  I think it’s actually the best course of action with a meal that size!  Of course I made candied sweet potatoes because they’re my favorite.  I also tried my hand at homemade cranberry sauce.  If you usually buy and slice from the can – STOP!  It’s so easy to make yourself and tastes a million times better!

The house was warm and full.  There’s something about eating with people.  The idea of breaking bread.  You’re sharing something – necessary and basic, but sitting and looking at and sharing conversations with people – that basic need becomes vital.  Relationships grow over good food and conversation!  And the Irish would say, also over tea :)

For this week’s project 52, I decided to ask my fellas what five things they are thankful for.  Here’s what they said:

Branden:

  1. Our family
  2. Our church families, both in the States and the one we’re becoming part of here in Cork
  3. For God’s grace
  4. For His provision
  5. Opportunity to serve the Lord in ministry

Silas:

  1. God being alive
  2. Me being alive
  3. Mom
  4. Dad
  5. Ethan

Ethan:

  1. God giving us a house
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Having a church
  5. Being alive

And I’m really thankful for:

  1. Jesus, that He loves me and gave everything to be with me – so humbling and incredible!
  2. This family that I get to live and grow and serve with
  3. Our families back home that would, at great cost to them, support us in this calling
  4. Friends and those who have become like family in the States, praying for and supporting what the Lord is doing here in Ireland
  5. For new relationships in the Lord, for the families and kids of Calvary Cork, to be a part of the body of Christ alive today!

I love that my kids are both thankful to be alive!  I have worried about them as a mom, moving them across the world and plunging them into a new culture, a new place and people.  I have seen them grow and there have been moments of just facing reality and learning to trust the Lord together.  But they are alive, not just in the physical sense.  They too, even at this young age, had their days, this season, appointed and purposed by the Lord.  There is no greater life than one lived in faith, following Jesus!  I’m thankful to be living that life together.

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