Today we arrive in North Carolina for training #3 (only one more to go after this!). I’m very excited about this week. Not only are we going to receive some great information and resources to help us in our ministry but we’re also going to be spending time with some awesome people in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina.I’ve been to this camp pre-Ryan and I remember being disappointed that I didn’t take advantage of the beautiful hiking trails as much as I should have. Any place that provides a map like this on their website is basically telling you to go and enjoy exploring the area. Please be praying for us this week. Please pray that God would open our eyes, that we would have teachable minds and hearts and that we would have a strengthening week for our marriage.
On Wednesday the 1st, if you’re on our mailing list, you received our June Newsletter in your inbox and the snail mail ones were mailed out on May 31st. I almost never send out a newsletter right at the beginning of the month but we have some great news to share. And no, I’m not pregnant. I still feel like I need to make this disclaimer every time I talk about “having news to share” with someone. So I guess the time I write…we have some news to share… and don’t make the disclaimer, you’ll all know the newsletter content already:-)But anyway, for those of your who have not read our news already, you can read it by clicking on the picture above or on our website under the About tab. We share the great and the not so great and there are some cute picture of us too, if I do say so myself.
I will almost always post our newsletters to the blog but if you want to receive them first, let me know and I will add you to our mailing list. Happy reading!
“Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs….” These words along with the rest of the Laura Ingalls series filled my childhood. I read all her original books, the books about her daughter Rose and her mother Caroline as well as others based on the lives of people who had been special to Laura. I also had the Little House Cookbook, the scrapbook I Remember Laura as well as read many more of the wonderful books that chronicled the non-fiction and fantasy of her life in early America.As I read through the series as a child, I never once thought that I would be visiting some of the places where she lived. So when Ryan suggested a trip to Pepin while in Wisconsin, I jumped at the chance. I even re-read Little House in the Big Woods in preparation so that everything would be fresh in my mind. And after a wonderful few days visiting friends and family in the Twin Cities, Ryan and I took a longer way back to Pardeeville along the Mississippi. This enabled us to stop by the place where a replica cabin stands on the land where Laura was born and had her earliest memories. But the highlight for me was walking along the shores of Lake Pepin, picking up pebbles just like Laura would have when her family visited the town together. I only kept two, pictured above with my copy of the book. However, Laura shares that she filled her entire pocket with pebbles each prettier than the last so much so that her pocket ripped out of her dress when her Pa put her in the wagon to head back home.
I loved my time on Lake Pepin and am so thankful for these beautiful days to pause and enjoy the places we find ourselves near.
It finally feels a little like spring and less like winter. After speaking at a Wesleyan Church yesterday (more on our ecumenical ministry opportunities later), Ryan and I headed up to the Twin Cities (St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota). Since Sunday was beautiful we took advantage of the lovely day and visited Minnehaha Falls. We then walked along the Minnehaha Creek, down to the mighty Mississippi. Well, it is the Mississippi River but since we could obviously (if you look at the picture) see across it, it isn’t the widest point. Anyway, it was a beautiful day to be out enjoying the weather and getting to visit with Ryan’s brother.After our walk, we had a delicious dinner at the 112 Eatery filled with new things to try and enjoy. And we ended the evening with a fire in the backyard. This was complete with good conversation, apple pie and ice cream. It was a wonderfully warm day and now we’re looking forward to another couple of lovely days here in the Twin Cities.
As a planning addict, I’ve always been convicted when reading Proverbs 16:9, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Seriously, Ryan says that planning is my love language. And I must admit that a thorough, organized plan is one way to my heart. But I have to be careful that my own planning or even the desire to have a plan doesn’t overshadow God’s ultimate desires and will for my life, day or even the next hour.This verse doesn’t say, “Don’t plan because God will do what He wants with you anyway.” Instead it is a gentle reminder that although we work, plan and make choices everyday, we lack ultimate control. But take comfort because the one who is in control is the loving, personal, creator God of the Bible.
So with this in mind, hear my heart planning our way to Australia in current circumstances. We hold this with open hands but ask that you would pray with us as we continue to plan and as God establishes our steps.
- 31 more days in our current support raising and training road trip. Please pray for hearts to be opened and our support levels to grow.
- Back to California for a week vacation on Catalina island. I grew up going to this family camp and Ryan and I are looking forward to a week of rest and refreshment. Please pray that this time would reboot us for the continued work that needs to be accomplished.
- Support raising milestone: 75%. We have been told that we should be at 75% by the end of June in order to stay on track for our arrival in Australia. Since we are currently at 60%, this is a big goal to reach. Please pray for diligence in asking for support and for God to surprise us with how and where the support comes from.
- A month in Brussels, Belgium for training. This may sound like a vacation but it’s an important part of the training process and what better place to do cross-cultural training than in a country where neither of us speak the language. Please pray that this would not be too overwhelming for Ryan and that I would be patient and a good learner despite having been through this training before.
- University of Western Australia: the latest we could hear about the masters program acceptance is the beginning of July. Please pray that I would be accepted into the program and that I would be able to apply for and receive scholarships.
- Travel in Switzerland and Germany. Since we’re already in Europe for the Belgium training, we contacted friends in the area and will spend some time after the training visiting people and even attending a German wedding. This is a great opportunity for Ryan to see more of Europe and for me to show him some places where I’ve lived and traveled in the past. Please pray for safety while we travel and for many fun memories to be made with our European friends and family.
- Back to California again because I am in a friend’s wedding at the beginning of August and then we have a full month of visiting churches already planned. Please pray for stamina and for God to continue to reveal what He would have for us.
- Although we have nothing scheduled past the end of August, this will be a time to work on our visas (student visa for me, spousal visa for Ryan), continue to raise the final support needed and make last preparations for our move. Please pray for wisdom as there are many decisions that will need to be made along the way.
- Leaving for Australia after Thanksgiving. A student visa allows you to enter the country 90 days before the semester starts. Please pray for God’s timing and clear direction.
We praise God that He has been guiding us and remains faithful. I look back at our newsletter from February 2015 when we shared what 10 things needed to happen before we moved to Australia and it’s wonderful to see how, by God’s grace, we’ve been able to accomplish 6 of the steps already. Despite the changes which include this new opportunity to study and learn at UWA, we see His hands at work. And we look forward to seeing how the Lord continues to establish our steps. Thank you for uniting with us in prayer and being with us on this road to Australia.
It started with a random afternoon free in Sacramento. Ryan said, “Let’s go see the capitol building.”
And now we’ve toured a few capitols on the west coast and visited a few more on this trip. We have another couple capitol buildings on the list during this road trip because if we’re in the area, we will at least stop for a capitol selfie. Can you name these capitols?
Ryan and I are here in Colorado working towards getting to Australia but one of the perks of our travel schedule is time with family. We are thankful that we can celebrate Ryan’s brother’s birthday today. May the 4th be with you! But having yesterday with our nephews while their parents were working was extra special. We did a few fun things (like take the lizard to the pet store to confirm that she was indeed a she) but my highlight was the Garden of the Gods.This beautiful park is free and open to the public like it has been since the land was bought in the 1870s by a man named Charles Elliot Perkins. And it’s been called Garden of the Gods even longer because when these large sandstone formations were seen back in the 1850s, one man remarked that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden” to which another responded, “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.” This place is indeed a beautiful example of God’s creation.These incredible rock formations definitely make you feel small. Yesterday was a beautiful day to explore, climb and enjoy. We stayed on the path when we had to but the nephews really enjoyed the places where we were able to make our way up and down the rocks themselves. Ryan and I also took the opportunity to use a nephew’s photography skills to capture just the two of us together.And of course a day like this isn’t complete without a little photobombing. Even the most basic backdrop at Garden of the Gods was lovely. The bright white clouds and blue sky contrasted beautifully with the red sandstone.Ryan already has lots of great uncle memories with these guys but it doesn’t hurt to make a few more. I love the fact that the memories we are making now will actually have a chance of sticking with them. Having the boys say that they want us to stay longer and visit more often is a compliment but it’s also one of the many things that makes it emotionally difficult to think of the reality of our move to Australia.Unlike Ryan, I have only had a handful of times with these guys. And despite the wind, I was happy to have this day to get to know them better and hopefully we will have many more special days in the future too.If you’re in the Colorado Springs area, Garden of the Gods is a definite must see. It’s easy hiking and the views are spectacular. Each different angle of Pikes Peak provides another viewing treat as you walk through these amazing sandstone formations. I’m so glad that I was able to explore this place with Ryan and our nephews.
It’s the last day of April and I drove today through the snow. Maybe I’ve done a little snow driving before in California but nothing that I can really remember and definitely not in April. I can now say that I’ve driven through the Rockies in falling, blowing snow. The coldest it got was 25 degrees according to the temperature gauge on our car. But it was a beautiful drive (at least what I could see when I wasn’t needing to focus solely on seeing out the front windshield) and the light flocking of snow made everything look lovely.We’re hoping that this is the coldest it will be on our road trip so it can only warm up from here. There is snow on the ground in front of Ryan’s brother’s home but it didn’t stop us from having a great evening with some of Ryan’s old friends here in Colorado. It was a night for Rook and catching up. We’re thankful to have arrived safely and are looking forward to a lot of work this week mixed with good family time.
Today we embark on our cross-country road trip. There are a few different reasons for this trip but the main two reasons are connecting with current, potential and future supporters and also attending a week long training in North Carolina. The training is a spiritual emphasis week which should prove both challenging and refreshing. We will be traveling as far north as the Twin Cities in Minnesota, as far east as Ridge Haven in North Carolina and as far south as Gulfport, Mississippi. I know that our drive up to the Twin Cities isn’t pictured on the map but this isn’t our exact route. I just wanted to give you all an idea of how much driving we’re going to be doing in the next 50 days. If you’re somewhere close to our route and we haven’t touched base, give us a shout out. We’d love to try and get together with you!
Tonight we are staying in Las Vegas and this is especially exciting because we get to try out the Beerhaus which is a new restaurant on the strip and my cousin is the chef! We get to enjoy his food at family gatherings and he’s the one that is credited with cooking the perfect brussels sprouts that got Ryan hooked:-) The Beerhaus (which had a great write-up on usatoday.com) is a bar that serves food so no brussels sprouts tonight but we’re looking forward to the beer and brats! This is a great way to start a road trip.
“The Lord will fight for you. Just be still.” Exodus 14:14
These words, from the kid’s church verse from last week, are a powerful reminder to me in this season of business. Ryan and I have gone from place to place, speaking engagement to speaking engagement and this is just the beginning of our busy summer. We swing from low, exhausted lows to energized, determined highs and back again. Yes, this is our job but we have to be careful that we don’t start relying too much on our own abilities and forget the underlying foundation of our work.I’m not good at being still. I’m not good at resting. Case in point: As I type these words, I’m actually feeling a little guilty because it’s Sunday afternoon and I should be napping or otherwise really resting but instead I’ve convinced myself that writing a blog entry to maintain my blogging schedule is more important. And although I am going to finish this, I’m reminded that I need to remember the words of this verse even more.
“The Lord will fight for you. Just be still.” The deeper we get in this process, the more convinced I am that my own words and abilities are severely inadequate. It’s only by God’s grace, through the Lord fighting for us that we will see everything fall into place, raise the support we need, finish the training we have to complete and make it to Australia.
We have a loving heavenly father engaged in this battle, we have his son Jesus who is also in on this fight and the Holy Spirit is constantly doing battle on our behalf. We have a whole army fighting for us…now to just be still.