Wednesday, March 31, 2010

House Decisions

I do believe everyone who reads this blog will be able to hear me celebrating when the house sells, without the use of a computer!

We have had two showings this week.  One did not like the house, the other we have not heard back from yet.  But we did hear that a short sell house in the neighborhood dropped their price again yesterday.  It is now below our house and will most likely sell for even less than it is listed for, especially if it goes into foreclosure.  Now we have to make a decision.  It's been on the market for six months and we still own it.  We've done all kinds of things to make it more sellable (is that a word?) and yet we still own it. 

I was teaching my last Fit For Health Bible Study class yesterday and we did a lot of talking about being able to grasp that God really does care and is truly interested in the things we think aren't so spiritual - weight loss, houses selling, ... - but do we really grasp that.  Each area of our life He desires to be involved in and in control of.  Do we really know that that looks like?  Do we really believe that?  I say it.  I want to believe it with all my heart.  But am I there yet?  I don't think so and I think the sell of our house is a daily reminder.  If I really got it would I be bringing the house back to God every day?  Would I have a pit in the bottom of my stomach about the decisions we need to make regarding the house?  What about you?  Do you really get what it looks like to believe, really believe, that God wants to be involved in every aspect of your life and that there is nothing too little to bring to him?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How do YOU measure success?

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday regarding success.  I left the conversation with a lot to think about.  I had said some things they didn't agree with and they pointed out that from their perspective I was looking at a situation wrong, then they shared some of their frustrations.  We are both in similar situations but see them from very different view points.  So, I walked away from the conversation with a lot to ponder.

The bottom line of the thought process has become, how does one measure success when they serve in ministry.  What is success for a missionary is where my thoughts ended last night.  I'd love to hear some of your comments as to the answer of that question.

When I taught school I worked with special needs children.  Each child had an individualized education plan with their goals for the year.  At the end of the year I had a black and white measuring stick to determine if I had succeeded as a teacher.  When I sold Pampered Chef I had a paycheck and an incentive program that determined if I was successful.  When I was a stay at home mom success became a little more fuzzy to determine, but there were days when I called it successful if the house was still standing the children were still alive at the end of the day.

But what about in ministry?  In a church setting there are some things that can be used to measure success, although that is where I am struggling at the moment.  Is success a building for your ministry?  Is success a senior pastor who repeatedly lets you know you are doing a good job?  Is success overflowing Sunday School classes?  Is success having the population you work with represented in each baptism service?  Is success being loved by the people you work with?  I know, I know - success is reaching people for Christ and discipling them into mature believers.  Boy does that sound like a true "churchy" answer.  But at the end of each day when I look back on my ministry how do I know if I am succeeding? 

And if I think it is difficult to define success in ministry when serving in a church, what will it be like on the mission field?  Will success be the fact that I bought groceries on my own and actually got the food I was intending to buy?  Will success be that in all the stress of a new environment we all got along for the day?  Will success be making a new friend?  A lady who once served in Spain as a missionary said that it takes as much as 8 years to bring a Spaniard to the point that they understand their need for God.  If that is still true, I hope success is not only measured in terms of people I have said the sinner's prayer with.

I wonder what the congregation I serve would say determined success?  According to God, what is success?  I have a lot more thinking, praying, and studying to do today.  What about you?  What would you say determines success in your life?  In the ministry of those around you?  In a missionary?

Hmmm... a lot more thinking for the day.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Its My Birthday!

It's my birthday and I actually share the date with several dear friends from church - Cassy, Joy, Emily, and little Mallory.  My cousin had his first child yesterday and missed sharing this special day with me by just a few hours.  It's interesting how as the years pass what is important for the celebration changes.  I remember not too many years ago when what I got was so important, but today I found more joy in the facebook birthday wishes than in any gift.  I am slow, but I am finally learning that life is so much more rich with lots of relationships and few things.  Thanks to all my friends that remind me how blessed I am.

Alex just came in as I was typing and asked when I was going to open my presents.  I told him I didn't get anything and he proclaimed "we'll have to change that."  Then he came back and asked what I wanted.  Well, I thought of two things - our house to sell and to raise our support.  So, if anyone is looking to give me a birthday gift today :) feel free to either buy our house or make a donation at  

Enjoy your day!  I am off to spend it with friends and family!

Monday, March 22, 2010

House Update

Have had several people ask about the house, so here is a quick update.... we still own a house.  Activity on the house has slowed down, but we did have a showing yesterday and a few people stop by for our "inpromptu" open house.  Keep praying.  We have no choice but to trust that the day for selling it is fast appraoching.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What in the world is an "outgoing expense" account?

Question #3:  In addition to monthly commitments, you are having to raise an out "outgoing expense" account.  What in the world is that?

Answer #3:  In simple terms, it is all the onetime expenses that we will incur between now and our arrival in Spain.  In a little more elaborate answer, here is a list of some of the expenses that this account will cover:
  • Training before we leave
  • Partnership Development expenses (newsletters, traveling to speak at churches, ...)
  • Airfare (too far to swim)
  • Visa applications
  • Freight - we won't take a lot, but airlines only allow one bag per passenger nowadays, so what we take will have to be shipped
  • Set up costs in Spain - things such as apartment deposits, utility deposits, furnishings, ...
  • Language School - we will be in language school for the first 12 - 18 months
  • First month's salary - we don't get to pull from our monthly commitment funds until we complete our first month on the field
  • A car - we won't get our licenses for awhile, but when we do we will need a way to purchase a car
  • Immunizations and physicals
It is amazing how fast these expenses add up! 

As I type this I begin to dream about what our first apartment in Spain will look like and cannot wait until I get to see it!  Thank you for your support!

Friday, March 19, 2010

How do we know the financial gifts we send go to you?

Question #3:  We want to be sure that any gift we give to SEND for your use you get.  How do we make sure that happens?  How do you know that we have given?

Answer#3:  On the bottom of every partnership form there is a six digit number 195902.  This is our number.  When you submit a partnership form they see that number and know it goes to us.  Also, once you make a commitment or send a gift, you are given a donor number.  That donor number is attached to us.  This enables you to send in additional gifts, even if you don't have the form because of the numbers being attached.

We can regularly log in to the SEND system and see all donations and commitments that have been received.  We can get an up to the minute update on where we are financially.  Also, if someone indicates on their partnership form that they would like to be a prayer partner, we get an email.  SEND stays in constant communication with us regarding our partnership development.

If you are ever concerned that a gift wasn't received or may not be allocated to us, please do not hesitate to send us a note and we will check into it for you.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Are you going to get rich as a missionary?

Continuing yesterday's theme with answering some frequently asked questions...

Question #2:  $10,000+ per month?  That's more than anyone I know makes in a month!  Why do you need to raise so much per month?  Is that all salary?

Answer #2:  No, it is not all salary and no, we are not going to get rich as a missionary.  In fact, as Scott and I both step down from professional type jobs we will take a major pay cut, but we can't wait.  So, if it isn't all salary, what is it?

Here is a brief outline of where the money will go..
  • Salary - we will receive a monthly salary that is to cover our living expenses - clothing, utilities, food, furnishings & house operations, taxes, telephone, non-business transportation, health & personal care needs, reading & recreation, financial planning & savings, tithe/offering/giving ... pretty much everything your take home salary presently covers except housing and some school expenses
  • Housing - we will receiving a monthly housing allowance and the amount is based on the number of children that will be living in our house
  • Retirement - we will need to continue to plan for retirement and they figure what minimum percentage of our income we need to put aside based on our age (and the fact that there is no one adding to this account except us).  SEND is very conscious of the fact that a day will come when we are ready to retire and will need to have planned for a way to come home.
  • Insurance - medical insurance is very expensive and remember there is no employer helping with the cost as an employment benefit.  More than 10% of our monthly support is to cover insurance.
  • Schooling - we now have to send our children to private school as they are teenagers and do not speak Spanish.  There is an allotment to help with these costs.  Also, we will have one child still here in the states in college and another one less than two years from returning to the states for college.
  • Travel - we are expected to put aside some money each month to prepare for the need to fly home at some point.  Also, we will get a travel allowance to allow for ministry needed travel.
  • Ministry - all the supplies needed to do ministry comes out of this monthly support and both Scott and I will be actively involved in ministry.  Everything from a new bible for someone, a bible study, crayons, and more comes out of this support.
  • Administrative Support - we are blessed and grateful to be serving as missionaries with a solid mission organization and not just being send "to the wolves" on our own.  They provide substantial administrative support and training to us.  A percentage of our monthly needs is to enable this support to continue.
And after they projected those costs a financial wizard looked at projected cost of living changes and exchange rate trends and came up with a figure that represents needed income both today and in five years.  The $10,378 figure is the projected mid point need.  That allows for the fact that for the first 2 1/2 years our account will have a little more money in it than is needed to be distributed and for the last 2 1/2 years our account will have a little less money coming in than needed to be distributed.  This figure should keep us from having to panic half way through our first term because of economy changes.  (that does not mean that like you, we won't have to tighten our buckles with economy changes, but it should keep us from starving during the 2nd half of our first term)

So, back to the original question.... are we going to get rich as missionaries?  Absolutely not, but we will be provided for and able to live a comparable life as those we are ministering to.  We will be able to be comfortable and know that the bill collector is not around the corner waiting to pounce. 

Once again, thank you for your continued support and encouragement.  This is continuing to be one wild ride!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why become a partner now if we aren't going to Spain for a year?

As I have begun to talk with people regarding our future plans and timeline I get the same questions repeatedly, so I figure there are others out there with the same questions... so for the next couple days I am going to try to answer some of the questions.

Question #1:  So, if we are not planning on going to Spain until at least early 2011, why is it important for people to become monthly partners now? 

Answer #1:  In worldly terms, because it gets you the "biggest bang for your buck."  Let me explain how this financial partner stuff works.

We have to raise two types of financial support - 1) our outgoing expenses, which includes one time expenses required to get the four of us to Spain, and 2) our monthly partners, which keeps us in Spain and provides for ministry.  Tomorrow I'll answer the question what does all that include, but back to today's question.  We cannot receive any monthly funds until we are in Spain, but the outgoing expenses have already begun.

When you give a gift to our outgoing expenses it goes straight to that "pot" and can be used for one time expenses but is not calculated at all into our needed monthly support.  When you make a monthly commitment that begins now, it goes into both categories.  Your commitment is calculated into our monthly requirements and your money goes into the outgoing expense pot until we are actually gone.  Confused yet?

Let me give you an example.

Say Sally wants to give $500 to us to help for outgoing expenses and then intends to also support us at $50 per month once we depart for Spain, which we hope is in approximately 10 months or less.  She can do this in several ways:
  • Send a check today for $500 to SEND and wait to hear from us that we are actually close to leaving and then make the monthly commitment - but remember we can't leave until the monthly commitments are also made.  OR
  • Send a monthly commitment for $50/month now and indicate it begins in January, 2011 and send the $500 check to SEND now and have it applied as a special contribution (our outgoing expenses) OR
  • Send a monthly commitment for $50 that begins now and include the $500 check to cover the 1st 10 months of commitment, which will automatically be applied to our outgoing expenses because we can't draw monthly funds yet as we are still here, but her commitment will also be applied to our monthly funds we are having to raise.
Are you confused?  Basically, any monthly commitments made now go into both financial categories and thus help in both areas of needed financial support, whereas, special contributions go only into our outgoing expense category.

Both categories are necessary and every gift and commitment is valued.  We have been overwhelmed, honored, humbled, and more by the people we have had become a partner.  We are amazed daily by the people who are expressing their support of our calling.  We are still in awe that God is allowing us to share His love with the people of Spain and that He is calling others to join alongside of us.

Thank you for every prayer, word of encouragement, and financial gift.  I cannot wait to see where God moves next!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Thousand Questions

This video is a little lengthy, but it is challenging.  How will you answer the question?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Solution for Sleepless Nights

I cannot figure out my body!  How come when I am so exhausted I cannot sleep?  I just knew when I fell into bed last night I would not remember my head even hitting the pillow.  I was tired physically, mentally, emotionally, ...  just totally worn out!  But guess what?  I remember my head hitting the pillow, Scott's head hitting the pillow, the kids going to bed, the bugs singing, the cat settling down for the night, the clock numbers changing one by one and a whole lot more.  Eventually I got up and tried sleeping somewhere else.

But sleep still evaded me.  So, as any good list maker and type A personality would do, I decided to take full advantage of my being awake.  First I thought through what I needed to do today.  Then when I was sure I had my day filled I decided to get "spiritual."  Maybe if I spent time with God I would sleep.  So I started in with God on my list - praying about the kids, for some friends who need a special touch, for the house to sell, for our partnership development, and a whole lot more stuff.  Guess what - I was not only still awake, I was no more relaxed and ready to fall asleep than I was when I worked on my to do list. 

Then I remembered about a year ago reading an article about not being able to sleep and decided to give it's method a try.  Just use the hours of the night to spend time with God for who God is.  Not for what He can do or you need Him to do, just for who he is.  Spend time resting in His arms and praising and thanking him for being God.  The article offered several strategies but the only one I could remember was alphabetical.  Shoot - it was the middle of the night, I was exhausted, and sleep was nowhere to be found - so why not give it a try.  And so I began...
  • A - God you are amazing, almighty, all powerful, all knowing, ...
  • B - God I praise you for being my God, the blessings you have bestowed on me, ...
  • C - your creation is beyond anything words can express, thank you for the cross, ..
  • D - your death Lord was the cost of my salvation and I thank you...
Somewhere around E or F I began to feel myself totally relaxing and the last thing I remember is telling God that I praise Him for my life that will be lived eternally.

This wasn't a gimmick, it was relationship that gave a peace that passes all understanding.  By just spending time with God and remembering what kind of God He was I not only relaxed physically, but mentally and emotionally and was able to drift into a peaceful sleep knowing who holds my life and all the details in it in his hands.

And the rest of the night was filled with sleep..... until the cat decided she needed to be under the blinds in the window - but at least it was morning at that point.

What's keeping you awake at night?  What do you do to when you can't sleep?  Is it working?  Maybe remembering your ABC's will work for you too.  May tonight be filled with peaceful, restful sleep!

I'm Tired...

Isaiah 40:27-31 (The Message)

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,

or, whine, Israel, saying,

"God has lost track of me.

He doesn't care what happens to me"?

Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?

God doesn't come and go. God lasts.

He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.

He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.

And he knows everything, inside and out.

He energizes those who get tired,

gives fresh strength to dropouts.

For even young people tire and drop out,

young folk in their prime stumble and fall.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.

They spread their wings and soar like eagles,

They run and don't get tired,

they walk and don't lag behind.
But Praise God... He is not and does not get tired!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Long Night and a Gentle Reminder

I just wanted to take a moment and say how thankful I am for friends.  Last night I had the opportunity to minister to a friend who had a relative at the hospital.  We spent several hours together in the emergency room just chit-chatting and passing the time.  And although today I awoke after a very short night (although not as short as hers) still wishing to be in bed, I was reminded of how powerful relationships are.  As crazy as it sounds, I had a good time with her last night.  Not because of the circumstances, but because of being together.  I was blessed to be able to drop everything and spend time together (although last night was the night I had decided I would beat the laundry pile and quit getting dressed in the garage where the clean laundry is stashed until I get it all ironed, foleded, and put away -thus today I had to gather clothes from the garage again).  When I got to the hospital she told me she had wanted to ask me to come, but figured she could get through it without someone and she didn't want to inconvenience someone else.  Today I am so glad she allowed me to come.  Today I am thankful not only for her friendship and the chance we had to spend time together, but I am greatful that God created us to need friends!

Can you imagine life if God had not given us the need for relationships?  Ultimately, we would be lonely people who not only walked the earth alone, we'd miss every blessing of the relationship with God.  What a miserable life that would be!

I am also reminded that my days with my friends in NC are slowly coming to a close.  I pray that I never lose the relationships, but distance will definitely change them.  But I also realized that we aren't promised another day even without going to a foreign country.  I pray that I will seize every moment of time we have together here and for the new friends I will have in Spain.  Friends are definitely a gift from God!

On another note, I went to the hospital because the Holy Spirit nudged me.  I read between the lines of a text message and knew I needed to go and I was blessed beyond measure (although the laundry pile is still there).  I wonder how many times the Holy Spirit has nudged me and I've ignored it for a "to do" list.  I can only imagine all the things I have missed out on.  May I become more and more sensitive to the Holy Spirit's nudging.  It's me who is missing out on being a part of God's great plan for relationships when I ignore Him.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another excerpt from Humility

In Humility by C J Mahaney you find the following quote by Leon Morris describing our humanly unalterable condition in this way:

God created man, created him to be His own... God set him in Eden to live in fellowship with Him, but man sinned.  Man became the slave of evil.  He cannot break free. Thsi is precisely the situation that the ancient world saw as calling for an act of redemption.  We who belong to God have gotten into the power of a strong enemy from we cannot break free.  If I can say it reverently, God, if He wants us back, must pay the price.

And the great teaching of the New Testament is that God has paid the price.  He has redeemed us.  Christ became our Redeemer....To release the slaves of sin He paid the price.  We were in captivity.  We were in the strong grip of evil.  We could not break free.  But the price was paid and the result is that we go free.

We do go free!  We're ransomed...liberated...forgiven of our sins. 

Consider for a moment...Where would YOU be today if HE hadn't ransomed you, if He hadn't liberated you? 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What Other People Think Part 2

Wondering what the picture has to do with this post...keep reading and you'll find out.

....So what else in my life am I so worried about what people are watching that I am not doing what I know I should be doing? 

Our surrender to missions has involved a lot of hesitations at times due to being worried about whether other people are watching or not.  When we first surrendered to missions I was very worried people would think we were just following the Judys (a family in our church who we were friends with who had just recently left for the field).  I worried that people would think we were being copy cats instead of really being called to missions.

When we received our first "no" I worried what people would think of us instead of wondering what God wanted to teach us.

When we decided to go through a 2nd organization outside our denominate I worried what people in our church would think.  I worried what our pastor would say.  I worried what my parents would say.  I worried what our other missionary friends would say.

When we were finally appointed as missionaries to Spain I worried about what people would think of the idea that we were going to Spain and not some "real" mission country.

What did all this worrying about other people get me - a loss of peace that God wanted me to have.  I took my eyes off God and put them on people and I missed out on the blessing that God was waiting to give me.  When I finally and repeatedly reached the point to focus on what I knew I was supposed to be doing and not what other people were doing there was a contentment that was beyond description.  The excitement returned and replaced the anxiety. 

I wonder, what else in my life am I missing out on because I worry about what other people would think.  How about you?  My first resolution is ballroom dancing class.  When Bible Drill (class times conflict) is over I am heading to the gym to take Ballroom Dancing.  I have always wanted to take a dance class with Scott and they offer it at 4:00 on Sunday afternoons.  I will probably be a goof at it and we will probably look pretty silly together, but who cares. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What Other People Think - Part 1

Ever realize how much time we (or is it just me) worrying about what other people think?  Ever think about how much time we spend in decision making wondering what someone else is going to say?  How many things in life have we let pass us by because of what other people might think?

Tonight at the gym I met with the personal trainer.  Makes me sound really athletic doesn't it?  Do not be fooled - it is called I need to lose weight and build up some endurance before I have no car in Spain and find myself walking everywhere.  Right after we got started I saw a friend there.  We spoke and then my mind began to run ninety miles an hour.  Are they going to think I was goofing off?  Was I working hard enough for their standard?  Did I look really goofy in the pants and shirt I was wearing?

Later, as the trainer and I were walking laps around the gym we passed the exercise classroom.  I commented to her that I had not tried any classes yet because I wasn't sure I was coordinated enough.  She of course encouraged me to try one and said I would do fine.  I then admitted the real reason - I was afraid of how foolish I was going to look in the class.  Her response was a chuckle.  But the words that followed were true words of wisdom - nobody is looking at you.  The people who are here tonight are here for their own exercise.  They really don't care if you are sweating enough, balanced enough, or working as hard as they are.  Nobody is watching you.

Ooo!  So maybe next week I'll try a class.  But even more so, maybe next time I'll just do what I know I should be doing and not worry about who I think is watching.

And perhaps this lesson has meaning in even more of my life....