Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Hometown

We learned today where we are heading to in Spain.  We knew all along we would be somewhere near Madrid, but exactly where was not going to be determined until we got closer to arriving.  I guess they think we are close to arriving, because today the leadership in Spain decided where we are going to live.

Our first home will be in Alcala de Henares - Alcala for short.  This was our first choice town.  We loved the town for many reasons, but mostly because it gave us a variety of opportunities for Alex's schooling, was close to language school for us, provided public transportation for Hannah to her school, and was just a beautiful city all around.

Alcala is in the Madrid province.  If you look on the map below, find Madrid.  Off to the right of the "d" is a yellow dot.  Alcala is about there.  The population is about 200,000.  The town was conquered by the Romans in 1st century BC.  Needless to say there is quite a bit of history in the town.  It is filled with cobblestone streets and old buildings.

Alcala is known for a variety of things, but while we were there two things stood out - storks and Don Quixote.  The town is the home to more than 90 pairs of storks.  They make their huge nests on top of many of the cathedrals.  Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote was born in Alcala.  There are statues of him as well as his supposed home.  There are even festivals that celebrate both his birth and his death.

And for those of you who know me, there was a chocoleteria in Alcala that served fabulous chocolate and churros!

Hannah and Don Quixote

A possible Language School

Stork Nests on the Cathedral

Best Part of Homeschooling

I homeschooled Hannah for two years while I worked full time and now I am homeschooling Alex until we leave for Spain.  Hannah decided to be homeschooled because she did not like public school.  We decided to keep Alex home because it just wasn't worth all the hassle to enroll him in a new school for what we hope is only a few weeks.

Today Alex and I had some errands to do (went to the social security office - predicted wait time when we arrived was 29 minutes, actual wait time was 59 minutes - ugh!) and then stopped for lunch.  It was there that it hit me.

Hannah and I had this routine.  Every Friday (my day off work) she and I would get a slow start to the day, then do any errands we needed to do, then go to lunch together.  It was over these lunches that I really got to know Hannah.  Those were special times.

At lunch today with Alex as we chatted over upcoming plans I realized how much I actually am blessed with the opportunity to spend this time with the kids.  I also realized how much I miss Hannah.

I am grateful for the time with Alex and I am ready to be reunited with Hannah.  Isn't it cool how God reminds us of the blessings in front of us if we keep our eyes open!

Blessing of a Believing Family

If you read the last post you know that life was kind of wild this past weekend.  In the middle of all the craziness was Christine, a friend from SEND who was raised in Connecticut and now lives in Philadelphia. Bottom line - she is a northerner.

I invited her to go with me to the family gathering in South Carolina (about as southern style as you can get).  I was giving her a heads up about what it might be like and she was pondering whether to go or stay home with Scott and his mom.  Then I casually said "they are almost all believers."  She immediately wanted to go.

On the way back to NC she and I discussed how welcome she had felt.  Wonder why that it is?  Yes, southerners are known for their hospitality, but it was more than that.  I believe it had more to do that we are all actually part of the same family to begin with - the family of believers.

Wonder how the event would have been different if there were few believers there?  Wonder what the conversations would have sounded like if Christ was not the center of most in attendance?  I wonder how welcome Christine would have felt?

I am truly blessed to be a part of an extended family where the majority place their hope and joy in Jesus.  Thank you Aunt Joann and Uncle Levonne for putting the weekend together (and for welcoming Christine at the last minute).  I had a wonderful time, but it also served to remind me of the blessing of a believing family.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricanes and Family

I truly live a crazy life!  No telling what direction life will take me next.

I had my weekend and most of next week all planned out - home together as a family on Friday night, Saturday go to Florence, South Carolina for a family gathering, Sunday morning attend church with an old college friend then drive home, and then on Wednesday Christine, a friend from SEND was coming to stay the night and I would take her to the Charlotte airport on Thursday.  A nice full and tidy schedule.

Then, hurricane Irene threatened to rear her nasty head and my neat and tidy schedule began to change by the hour:

  • My mother-in-law was directly in the path, so Scott headed to Jacksonville, North Carolina to pick up his mom and bring her back to our house on Friday.
  • Christine sent me a facebook message that her flight to Charlotte on Sunday was in jeopardy and she wasn't sure what her schedule was going to be.  We chatted for awhile and she changed her flight to come late Saturday night.  Not a problem, since Scott's mom was coming here he wasn't going to the Florence gathering and could go get Christine.
  • I went to the bank (and then planned to go to the grocery store) and my car wouldn't start when I came out.  Usually that just means it is tired and needs to just sit for 30 minutes or so, so I walked to the grocery store and bought my groceries and brought them back to the car (practicing for being in Spain where I will walk to the store all the time).  
  • While cooking dinner Christine sent me another message that her Saturday flight has now been cancelled.  We talked for awhile and decided she would come that night (yes, it was now 6:00 or later and she coming tonight!)
  • I realized I had bought the wrong cut of chicken and had to go back to the grocery store.
  • I sat the table for dinner and forgot Hannah wasn't here and sat too many places.
  • Scott and his mom arrived home, we visited for awhile, and then I drove to Charlotte to pick up Christine at 11:30 PM.
  • Saturday morning we drove to Florence, and yes, took Christine with me.  She needed a full southern experience!  (read about it at her blog The Journey For Which I Was Made)
  • Came home from SC today and Scott took his mom home today (she has no power, but her house was not damaged - did have a hole in a storage building and a power line down across one of her driveways)

But we have had a blast (well, Scott may not say he has had a blast since he has worked while I have played).  Christine and I have laughed and talked about every topic under the sun.  We visited with family I have not seen in years (we won't talk about how many years).  We introduced Christine to some southern delicacies - boiled peanuts and sweet tea.  We played Dutch Blitz and ate pizza.  We traveled home with laughter.  A Boston butt is in the oven for homemade bar-b-q.  I got to skype with Hannah for an hour (she is doing wonderful - I'll try to get her to do a guest blogger spot soon). Chocolate chip ice cream and Hershey's chocolate shell are in stock for dessert.  Scott is on his way home.  Games are calling our names tonight!

Front porch of my aunt's house
in Florence, South Carolina
Life is good - even when it is not so neat and tidy!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Recipe Exchange

I had a fabulous time yesterday with Robin and Olga again.  This week we went to Olga's new home for her to cook Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish omelet) for us.  She also fixed my favorite bocadilla, the one with crushed tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic.  Yum!  Hopefully I learned enough to duplicate it here.  Then I shared with her the recipe for the chicken casserole that I made for her when we first met.  I walked her through each step, being sure my English terms made sense to her.  She is going to try to make it on Saturday.  

In the middle of the recipe exchanging both Olga and Robin made comments that once again made me excited to get to Spain - "as much as you love to cook and share recipes, the women of Spain are going to love you."  I cannot wait to start sharing time in my kitchen and new friend's kitchens and learn all new kinds of recipes.  What a wonderful way to build relationships and share lives.

And for your enjoyment - both recipes from yesterday:


Chicken Casserole:
  • 1 whole chicken, boiled, taken off the bone, and shredded
  • 1 small package Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 can Cream of Celery Soup diluted with one can of chicken broth
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup diluted with one can of chicken broth
Combine stuffing, onion, and butter.
In a 9 x 13 pan layer ingredients in the following order:

  • 1/2 stuffing, onion, and butter mix
  • Shredded chicken
  • Diluted Cream of Celery Soup
  • 1/2 stuffing, onion, and butter mix
  • Diluted Cream of Chicken Soup
Bake at 350 degrees or until brown and bubbly.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I did it! I put Hannah on an airplane to Spain by herself yesterday without a total emotional breakdown!  Yeah, there were a few tears, but a whole lot more laughter.  But let me tell you why...
Hannah and Becky at the airport

Last family picture on this side of the ocean for awhile

The morning started with tears.  I hadn't managed to brush my teeth and shower before the tears began to fall.  I knew it was the day.  Yet, I also knew I wanted the morning to be light hearted, not depressing.  So I stuck on a smile and headed to the kitchen for my quiet time.  

The house we are staying in has a beautiful, wooded backyard.  I love to sit at the kitchen table and sip my diet coke and look out the wall of windows during my quiet time.  Just a beautiful, peaceful setting.  I am reading through the book of Ezekiel in my quiet time and yesterday I just couldn't focus on it.  So I finally closed my Bible and just began to spend time talking with the Lord.  And more importantly, listening.

And then I was reminded - God knew exactly how I was feeling.  He reminded He too had let His child go.  He understood the emotions that were raging.  He was right there.

Then off to the airport we went (after nearly an hour of rearranging her suitcases and taking things out to make then under 50 pounds).  It was a light hearted time.  Yes, there were some tears - but we all survived with no big scenes.

Plan for the day - stay busy so I was tired enough to sleep and too busy to worry.

First stop - post office.  Alex got the mail out of the post office box and what was on top?  A partnership form - for another 1%.  I was blessed by the partnership, but even more than that - I was blessed by the fact that I heard God saying, I am hearing your prayers my daughter.  

So off to home and I open my email and there is another partnership, one that says " One region (meaning on the progress map to the right) closer to your baby girl and God's calling.  You will be missed.  You are all an inspiration to those of us here.  Can't wait to see what God does through you."  Again, God was saying - my daughter, I hear your prayers, have faith in me - I am worthy of your trust!

He is worthy of my trust.  He is faithful.  He is loving.  

A few more tears fell through the day, some in praise to Him, others just because I'll miss my time with Hannah.  But worry and anxiety were not a part of the day.  For HE alone is faithful!

Hannah did arrive safely with all her luggage.  I talked to her about 5:30 this morning.  No problems along the trip.  Thank you for your prayers yesterday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Excitement and Tears

Two weeks ago all our plans changed (seems like God is good at doing that).  An opportunity for Hannah to go to Spain ahead of us opened up, and after much discussion and prayer we moved in that direction.  This is Hannah's senior year in high school and much of the bonding and activities begin at the beginning of the year.  Add to the picture that she is taking AP Calculus, Honors English, and Spanish IV and we knew getting there as soon as possible was needed.

So plans were made and excitement grew around our house.  After 18 months of planning and preparing,  one of us is on their way to Spain.  Today she gets on an airplane and begins an experience of a lifetime!  She will travel to Newark and then on to Madrid, arriving on Thursday morning (4:00 AM our time).  She will live with another missionary family who also has a senior daughter named Hannah.  She will begin school on Friday, only one day late.

I am excited for her.  I cannot wait to hear that she has landed and how her first day of school goes.  I can't wait to hear about her new friends, classes, and how the retreat goes next week.  More than that, I can't wait to join her in Spain.

Today is going to be filled with emotions on both ends of the spectrum - excited for the journey ahead and sadness as we part for an unknown period of time.  I expect today will be filled with laughter and tears.  I expect tonight will be filled with lots of restlessness until I hear that she has arrived safely.  I think today will just be "one of those days."

Pray for safe travels for Hannah.  Pray that she goes through immigration and customs with no problems (this is the one piece of the journey that makes her nervous).  Pray for Scott, Alex, and I as we say goodbye.  Pray for her grandparents as they know this is the first of some big goodbyes.  Pray for Becky (Hannah's best friend) as they part for several months.

Pray that we join her quickly.  We need about 10% of our support before we can leave.  Pray that partners step up quickly.  (If you want information about how to become a partner, send me a note on the "contact me" tab.)  Pray that the excitement of what is ahead rules today.  Just keep us all in prayer today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Hannah is blessed to have a beautiful best friend, Becky.  The two of them have been friends since the 5th grade.  They met at VBS and by the 2nd day of VBS they were "attached at the hip."  Tomorrow will be hard for the girls to say goodbye, but they already have plans for a trip to Spain.  Pray for both of them tomorrow, but they both know that friendships like this last a lifetime - regardless of the miles.

Final Days of Summer

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Choosing Church

I get to choose today whether I go to church or not.  Guess that sounds a little odd written on a blog about a family going to the mission field, but it is one of the few times in the past 8+ years where I have had that choice while at home.

I have served on a church staff for 8+ years and Sunday was a work day and church attendance was part of the job description.  Now don't get me wrong - I didn't go to church because it was a job, I went to worship God.  However, my only choice was am I going to church to worship God or to work - I really didn't have the choice of "am I going to church."  (Of course on vacations I got to choose)

Today when I woke up I realized I had a choice - I could stay put in my pajamas, head to brunch (my favorite meal out), and get a head start on laundry or I could go to church.  Then I realized if I chose church I had no responsibilities to people, I was just going to worship, learn, and fellowship.

I also realized I had taken the choice to go to church for granted.  For the majority of people in a church building this Sunday morning they are there by choice.  They have said "I will fore go the lingering in their pajamas, the leisurely Sunday morning breakfast, and the chance to get a head start on the week so that they can join together with other believers in worshiping God and studying His word."  For most of the last 8 years I woke up each Sunday and knew I was going - there was no choice.

That freedom of choice has put a whole new twist on getting ready this morning.  I have chosen to go to church this morning and I am excited.  I am going to an adult Sunday School class.  I cannot tell you the last time I attended one of these at my home church.  Add to that I am going with Scott to Sunday School - going to be just a little odd.  What about you?  Why are you going this morning?  Are you choosing to go?  I can't wait!

A Little Melancholy

The reality of Hannah leaving is beginning to hit.  She leaves in four days for Spain without us.  She is so excited so it is a little difficult to be sad, but I am going to miss her!  Her suitcases are almost packed (although they probably weigh too much) and we are finished shopping.  The good-byes have begun - first grandma and the cat, then granny and papa, tomorrow to church and most church friends, ...  It is close enough to begin to feel real.

We know we are doing the best thing for her, but sure wish we were either going with her or knew when we'd be following.  One more step in faith.  We continue to pray that God will provide the rest of our support and the VISAs will arrive in time for us to leave in September, but until God answers we do not know how long we will be separated (although at 90 days she has to come home if we have not arrived with her VISA).

She leaves Wednesday so I figure I need to fill my calendar full for Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning until we hear that she has safely arrived.  Pray that I don't drive the family crazy while we wait.  Pray for the Hendricks as they prepare for her arrival.  Pray for Scott as he prepares to say goodbye to his "little girl."  Pray for Hannah that she leaves with no regrets.  Pray that we are quickly behind her.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Tuesday I went to lunch with Robin and Olga.  Olga is fairly new to the United States (been in the states about 8 months), and although she speaks great English, she sometimes has difficulty either coming up with the right English word or knowing how to prounce the word she knows.  I hope my Spanish is as good as her English at 8 months.

At lunch she wanted to order a glass of wine.  She knew she wanted a glass of white wine and a particular type.  She pronounced it once, twice, three times.  She then described it.  Robin and I guessed at what she was saying.  Finally, she said "don't worry - I'll just settle for a glass of water."

I felt bad for her - all that work and still she just had to settle for water.  Then it hit me!  In just a few weeks I'll have to learn to be happy with settling.  I can only imagine what I'll have to settle for as I attempt to learn a whole new language.   I just hope I'll have the same happy attitude Olga had.

By the way, as we were walking out of the restaurant there were three large bottles of wine on display - one was Chardonnay - what she had been asking for all along.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Have you been watching the map to the right this week?  It is becoming more and more yellow - a sign we are closer and closer to leaving for Spain.

Hannah leaves in 6 days without us and our prayer is that the time between her departure and our departure is short.  She has been given special permission to leave so that she can start school, but the rest of us must wait for 100% support.

All of those gray spots add up to $1111.67/month  (not really - as that is an odd number - but close enough).  That is what we are short to reach 100%  We continue to pray for 100% support by the end of August.

It's exciting to watch the map change colors and we give God all the credit.  Would you pray about helping share the light of Jesus with a group of people that have no idea how much HE really loves them?  It would be really cool to be at 100% by the time Hannah arrives in Spain.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Movie: The Other Side of Heaven

We don't have cable TV at our temporary house so we have been watching a variety of old movies from Netflix and whatever we can find on Hulu.  I just finished watching the movie The Other Side of Heaven - a 2001 Walt Disney movie.  It is the story of John Groberg, a mormon missionary sent to the Tongan Islands in the 1950s.

I decided to watch the movie thinking it would give me insight into the methodology of Mormon missions (since this is one of the largest religious groups in Spain).  Instead, it has made me ponder my life.

The movie was not about the Mormon theology, just about the adventures of the missionary.  But still, I wondered throughout the movie, what does this character do or say that is different than me.  I know the truth of Jesus and yet my life often looks just like John Groberg.  I try to do good, I try to love others, I try to live my life so that others see Christ - but do I ever proclaim the truth?

No wonder the world has a hard time discerning the truth.  The truth often looks just like the lies of the world.  What sets the truth apart?  What makes me look different than those following false gods or who have just rejected Christ?  If someone made a movie of my life, would it look just like other "good people" or would people know that I follow the true God?  What about you?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


(Today's guest blogger is my husband Scott)

We were passing through Martinsville, Va this past weekend when we saw this sign. Aside from it's general coolness, we were all excited to see that it specifically stated we were 3,988 miles from Madrid.

There are all sorts of mileposts in our lives. Like the one pictured above, they can denote physical distance on our way to another place. Other less literal mileposts, such as graduations or weddings, are signs that we are moving from one era of life to another. Sometimes mileposts are there to tell us that something important happened at that place in the past.

In the Middle East groups of people have been standing up stones as markers of great events between men or significant encounters with God for thousands of years. The Hebrew word for these standing stones is "massebah" and this means "to set up." In Joshua 4 we read about the stones that the Israelites removed from the dried up Jordan River and later set up on the banks. These stones were a milepost to remind both those who had just crossed into the Promised Land and later generations what God had done for them.

I look back on the journey our family has made as we approach our time in Spain. I am amazed at what God has done for us, at how he has guarded us and blessed us and loved us. In the one sense, it is time to erect a standing stone so that others will wonder what happened here. (I suppose this blog is just that.) In another sense, we can see how close Spain is getting as Hannah will be leaving for school there in a little over a week.

Mileposts are important because they remind us of where we have come from and how far we have left to go. It seems like they are clicking by faster and faster.

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's Official

It's official that I am unemployed.  Everything in my office is cleaned up and put away.  The pictures on the walls are in the garage.  The voicemail no longer has my name on it and my email is all forwarded to the administrative staff.  I don't think I will understand what unemployment really feels like until Monday.  So I'll write more about that next week.

One step closer to Spain!

It's also official that Hannah is heading to Spain before us (and thus without us).  Her senior year begins on the 25th of August and we obviously will not be ready to be there by then.  After a lot of prayer and discussion, we received official permission yesterday for Hannah to go ahead without us.  This will allow her to start school on time and participate in the junior/senior high retreat.

Haven't had time to process all that means yet or all that we need to do.  So watch for more reaction and thoughts behind this development.  We are praying that the rest of our partnership comes quickly so this separation is short.

One step closer to Spain!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I am NOT in Control

The past few days I have been re-learning a lesson.  I am not in control of every aspect of my life.  Most of you are just laughing at that statement.

Those of you who know me well, are saying - oh man, glad I wasn't part of that struggle.  The one who is in charge of everything had to relearn that lesson.

Those of you who only know me through the blog are probably saying, no duh!

The problem is, sometimes I have to remember that I am not the only one God speaks to.  He gives wisdom and direction to others.  (Again, a no duh moment).

The other thing I have to remember is that man cannot thwart God's plans.  So even if the leaders around you make a mistake, God will still accomplish His plans.

The issue turned out the way we wanted... but the truth would still have been the same if the answer had been different.

God gives wisdom to the leaders around us who seek it.  Having faith in God sometimes looks like trusting God to work through others.  Faith sometimes just looks like letting go.  Just wondering how many more times in life I'll have to learn this same lesson.

(Thanks to those at SEND for helping me learn the lesson again)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Business Partnerships

Do you own a business and need a charitable donation?

When we first began partnership development one of our very first partners suggested we contact business that are run on Christian principles and ask them to partner with us.  We have done a little of that and we have several businesses that are partners - an eye doctor, a dentist, and a cleaning company.

We are 15% away from being 100% supported.  If 15 people/businesses would make a faith promise of $1200/year (or give a $6000 lump sum gift) we would be at 100% support.

SEND International is a 501c3 organization and your donations are 100% tax deductible.

Send me an email if you want more information about how to be a business partner.  Feel free to share our information with any business that you know too.

We are continuing to trust and believe that God will provide our support by the end of August.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dinner on the Town

Nearly two years ago I was given a gift card to Ruth Chris Steakhouse in appreciation for a project I completed.  We had just put the house on the market and we decided we would save it to celebrate when the house sold.  (For those of you who do not know, Ruth Chris is a very nice restaurant, gift card is $100 and will take that for Scott and I to have dinner).  We definitely did not think it would take this long for us to use the card.  Then the house sold and life was crazy with selling everything, moving, and heading to Michigan for training.  But the day has finally come.

Tonight Scott and I have reservations for dinner.  He's been gone for a week so a perfect way to reconnect.  No lunch for me today, I want to be hungry.  I cannot wait!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's All About the Money

As my final days approach at work and we continue to live in a temporary house, the repeated question is "when are you leaving?"  The answer is, "it's all about the money."  At this point the only thing keeping us in the states is our on-going partnerships.

SEND requires us to have 100% of our on-going partnerships committed before we can leave.  Not all mission agencies have this requirement, but we think it is a good one.  Many missionaries leave at 80 or 85% of their support and then instead of spending their first few months on the field focusing on getting acclimated, learning the language, setting up a house, and etc they are focused on continuing to raise their support.  SEND would rather us hit the ground in Spain able to focus on all the transitions and changes than being concerned about our income.

So what does that exactly mean for us?  It means that we need $1802.50 more in monthly partnerships before we can leave.  SEND will allow us to set a travel date when we have approximately $300 left to raise.

We have several people who have said they plan to partner but have not completed the paperwork.  We have others who are praying about how God may be asking them to partner.  And as for the rest, we are praying that God will lead us to the right people to ask or that God is already working on other's hearts.

Perhaps God is calling you to partner with us?  If 18 people committed $100/month (or $1200/year) we would be leaving.  If 36 people committed $50/month (an annual gift of $600) we would have our plane tickets bought.  (partnerships can be given monthly, quarterly, or annually and can be any size - $50 and $100 are just easy math examples)

We continue to pray that God will provide our support by the end of August.  That is definitely a God size request, but we believe that we serve a big and mighty God.

Would you consider partnering with us?  Need more information, see the tabs above to read more or to contact me with questions.  Keep an eye on the map to the right.... 100% yellow means the Hunters are on their way!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Jesus Wept

As I sat and had my quiet time this morning tears just fell - making the words on the Bible impossible to see.  I found myself apologizing to God for the tears - tears that were hard to explain in words - just tears.  Then John 11:35 came to mind - even Jesus wept.  Theologians give a thousand reasons for his tears, yet this morning what was important was not why He cried, but that He cried.  Tears don't always need reasons that can be explained, they just sometimes are.

This season of the journey is harder than I planned.... how do you mourn the goodbyes and celebrate the hellos at the same time?  Remember, this is not my first move.  I moved once as a teenager and Scott and I have lived in 5 different areas of our 24 years of marriage, but this one is different.  Don't ask me to put in words why or how, it just is.  It's hard.

And sitting right on the edge of my eyes today are tears - some will fall and some will not.  Some will be easy to explain and some will be a mystery.  Some will be in private and some will be shared.  Some will just be.  Maybe even some of you will join me with your own tears.  No words needed, its just hard.

Double Dessert and Goodbyes

Today we celebrated the end of my office days at Cornerstone (I really have 6 more, but after today Dave is gone).  Actually, they told me we were not celebrating my leaving but instead the ministry I am leaving behind.  Lunch was filled with a return to Tripps (the regular lunch place of the staff when I first joined the Cornerstone staff).  The manager then offered us complimentary dessert and being the great staff (and Baptists and chocolate lovers) we are,  we accepted.  The 8 of us divided three desserts - Georgia Brownie, Molten Cake Sundae, and Key Lime Pie.  In addition to the food, lunch was filled with laughter and reminiscing over the past 14 years.

Although there have been changes over the years - staff, office locations, schedules, .. - one thing has been consistent:  CAKE.  We can find any excuse to have cake and today was no exception (forget the fact we already had dessert).  So after lunch and dessert we returned to the office for cake - chocolate and peanut butter, my favorite combination!  The staff then gave me a gift certificate to Balance Day Spa - my definition of the perfect gift!  I am so blessed.  Only thing missing was the Celebration Bear (ask Dave Tomasek about the bear).

It was easy to laugh through the celebration, but in the quietness of home the rest of the emotions rage!  I am so very blessed to have worked with an incredible staff that loves the Lord.  We all have different gifts and different callings, yet we all know the purpose of it all - to make the name of God known!

I will forever be changed by my days at Cornerstone.  I will cry quite a few tears as the end of this journey gets closer.  I will take memories that will last a lifetime.  I will take friendships to a foreign land.  I will plan ways for our ministry to continue to partner together.  I will be grateful for technology that lets me stay connected.  I will daily pray for their ministry as God continues to use them at Cornerstone.

Thank you to my co-ministers (and that includes you office ladies too) for 14 fabulous years!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Name It Claim It

I appreciate those times in my life when God and I struggle.  Those times when I know that I am experiencing growing pains in the Lord are always good ones (or at least I say that after the pains).  Over the past nearly 3 years of this mission journey there have been lots of those struggles - times when I have had no choice but to hunker down with the Lord and His word and listen.

This past week in Michigan was the beginning of one of those times.  We desperately want to be in Spain in September due to a variety of issues - kid's schooling, ready to transition, good-bye process, excitement, ...  Yet, we repeatedly have to step back in our prayers and say "not my will, but thine."

Sometimes those words are easy to say and believe and other times those words come with the heart wrenching, stomach churning knowledge that His will may equal disappointment for a season.  Add to the equation faith - believing that we are walking where God has led and that He is going to answer, yet what if he doesn't?

We have gotten all kinds of prayer advice - pray fervently, pray specifically, pray believing, ask and you shall receive, and so on.  And thus the latest "growing pains."  I do believe that God's word tells us to ask, according to His will, and you will receive.  I do believe that God often answers my prayers with wait or no.  I do believe in asking specifically.  I do believe that prayer requires faith.   I do believe in the unbelievable, un-matching, indescribable power of prayer!

Yet, how does all this look in reality.  Many television evangelists preach "name it, claim it" gospel.  I don't believe in that theology - there are many things I'd like to claim that I know are nowhere near God's will and therefore I can expect a no.  But how does my theology play out?

So back to my prayer request for a September arrival in Spain (which equals 100% partnership by the end of August).  I pray specifically for this and we have made decisions based on the belief that God is going to answer this prayer, yet we also know that He may say "that is not MY timing."  Does that mean I didn't pray specifically enough?  Does it mean I didn't have enough faith?  Am I presuming upon God to ask this specific kind of prayer?  To those watching the journey and wondering about this God we proclaim to believe in, how does laying out a specific prayer request and then watching God answer - sometimes positively, sometimes with a different answer than our thoughts - impact their picture of faith?

The majority of these questions have no concrete answer, but the struggle will require me to know my Lord a little more.  Maybe that is the purpose of these struggles - not to necessarily find answers, but to be drawn into a more intimate relationship with the keeper of all the answers.

And for now, I will continue to pray with a believing heart and wait on the Lord to answer.

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.