Not Too Big
Feb
10

Not Too Big

It’s been just over a week since these ladies came to visit us!  We’d been talking about the possibility of them coming even before our family moved here in October.  There was a conference they’d be helping with in the UK.  I jokingly (but kind of  seriously :) insisted on them stopping through Ireland on the way back, since they’d be only an hour away.  I’m so thankful they made it happen!

I have to admit, I surprised myself, tearing up when they walked though our front door.  The last few months have been amazing and full and good.  There’s been (and continues to be) a lot of transition, and we are settling in to the new normal.  But somehow, their familiar faces, standing with luggage in hand, in our entry way – it got me.  They’d brought a little bit of home to us and I was both thankful and overwhelmed.  I suddenly realized how far away from the familiar we really are.

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We went to the ocean while they were here.  We actually hadn’t been to the beach since we’ve moved here.  Sometimes I forget we live on an island now!  The weather in Ireland can be unpredictable.  Actually, the forecast was quite grim for the two days they were supposed to be visiting.  I remember just praying for favor beforehand, that the Lord would hold off the crazy winds and pouring rain!  And the Lord answered!

When we got to the ocean though, it was pretty windy (as you can see in our picture above!)  The sky was thick and gray, the waves full of commotion and noise.  It was incredible, the water seemed to go on and on forever.

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We’d just walked down to the shoreline and it started to drizzle.  I thought is was the ocean misting up at us at first.  Within minutes, it was raining, then all but pouring!  There we were, three grown women, running from waves and trying to collect a few rocks, souvenirs from this side of the Atlantic!

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We probably only stayed about ten or fifteen minutes.  By the end of it we were all drenched, laughing and yelling to be heard over the water!

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I’m so thankful for these women, for two days packed with laughter and late night tea and easy, full conversations.  I’m thankful for memories made in full winter gear at the beach, with the ocean threatening to wash us away.  And I’m thankful especially for friends that make you feel like home is not so far away and the world is not too big.

Until next time…

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52 / 52 – Walking
Jan
11

52 / 52 – Walking

Walking.  Since moving here to Ireland, we’ve learned to walk much more than we ever did before!  In Cork City, many people don’t have cars.  Owning one is pretty expensive here.  The streets are narrow and crowded, and there’s not much in the city center that isn’t within a half hour or forty-five minutes on foot.  So people walk.

A couple weeks ago, the boys and I spent the day in the city.  We started at the church, which is basically at one corner of the city, and set out on foot.  I had a purse and each boy carried an empty backpack, ready to be filled with any treasures we might pick up along the way.  We went from store to store, mostly window shopping and just enjoying the day.

We probably walked a total of six hours – which is a lot for us!  It was a little chilly, and for part of the time it actually rained a bit, but nothing that really bothered us enough to stay inside.  We talked about things we saw, told stories, picked up a couple small things, and just walked.

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Walking together seems so simple; it’s normal, everyday life.  But as I’ve been thinking about it, it’s in that simplicity that life happens.  Walking with someone means motion, moving in a direction, going forward with them.  It means keeping step, not falling behind or racing ahead; you’re walking.  It means conversation and fellowship – relationship.  And as you see the same things, participate in the everyday, from exciting to mundane, you find yourself knit together with them.   Your days are intertwined.

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As we close the cover on 2016 and look with anticipation at the blank pages that await us, I hope to walk well.  To keep in step and live fully and faithfully in all the Lord calls me to each day.   I pray we’ll build relationships and grow as we make the most of everyday opportunities.  And I hope that as we make our way, we’d also make the stories we’ll share at this time next year and beyond.  I’m so thankful, knowing that when Jesus came it was to be Emmanuel, “God with us.”  He walked among us, living life here and calling us to the Father.  And He is Emmanuel still, and calls us to love and call the world to Himself.  Here’s to all He has in store for 2017!

And these boys – couldn’t ask for better walking partners!

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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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