How did we get here?

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As many of you know, Andrew and I made the decision to move our family to the Dominican Republic at the end of October 2016.  Then in early November, Andrew officially accepted a position as the director at Caribbean Mountain Academy in the Dominican Republic.

Prior to getting married in 2008, Andrew and I had a very frank conversation about where we felt that God was leading us.  We both had a heart for people, and knew we wanted to serve in a ministry capacity but we weren’t entirely sure what that would look like.  Both of us felt that we wanted to work with youth, and I specifically wanted to pursue counseling.  I remember very distinctly having a conversation with Andrew that went something like this,

Andrew: “Do you feel called to foreign missions at all?”

Erin: “No, I never have.  There are too many hurting people here! Do you?”

Andrew: “No, not at all.”

Erin: “Okay, that’s good.”

Shortly after this conversation Andrew began working at Lifeline Youth and Family Services at a residential boys home.  He loved it!  After we got married, I worked for a year at a crisis pregnancy center while I waited to turn 21.  Once I was 21 I applied, and soon after began working at Lifeline as well.  There we have remained until now.

For about a year prior to the Dominican Republic opportunity coming up, I had begun feeling a great deal of unrest where we were.  Some of that had to do with having divided interests with family rearing and continuing at Lifeline, but I really believe God was beginning to transition my heart away from Lifeline.  In May of 2016, Andrew forwarded me a job posting for the directors position.  I emailed back and said, “Nah, I don’t want to move to the Dominican Republic”.  A few weeks later he emailed me again and told me he talked to the hiring VP, and really wanted to apply.  We talked about it that night, and  I was hesitant on the timing because I was at that point 7 months pregnant with our fourth baby, and feeling a bit overwhelmed already.  I told him if he felt strongly about it, he should apply.  He did.  He felt the interview went really well.  We started really talking about what the move would mean for our family, and what we would need to do to get there.  I even felt a little bit of excitement, and then…. Nothing.

We assumed that the hiring VP had chosen someone else, and so we moved on in every way.  Naomi was born, I began a Masters program, Malachi was enrolled in preschool, and things were moving along smoothly.  Then Andrew called and told me he was asked if he was still interested in the position.  We both sat through a second interview, and were scheduled for a trip down to see the ministry in action.  The trip was a whole six weeks away, and it seemed like an eternity.  As we prayed about it, we knew that this was likely our next step, but meeting the staff and the clients and experiencing the impact being made really confirmed it.

So, here we are.

On the way home from Pennsylvania (where our kids had stayed with family while we were gone), we listened to a few songs on repeat that repeat this concept of walking on waves, like Peter did when Jesus was approaching the boat.  Peter asked if he could walk out to Jesus, but once his feet touched the water he took his eyes off of Jesus, and looked instead at the waves.  He was immediately terrified, and cried out to Jesus in fear because he was beginning to sink.  This concept has been powerful imagery for me as I consider all of the ramifications of moving not only myself, but my four small kiddos to a country that I do not know.  Where Andrew and I will need to learn a language that we do not understand.  And seek to understand and appreciate a culture that is not our own.  I won’t say that every day is awesome, and I only feel excited because that is far from the truth.  There have been many growing pains in the process.  However, in the last few years I have been challenged and stretched in some hugely impactful ways and I have learned some very important preparatory things.

 

1.) We do not want to waste our lives.  In 2014, I lost my Mom to cancer and she was only 56.  That was (and is) hard, but through her life and death, she taught me an important thing:  lives lived faithfully for Jesus make an eternal impact.  I want my legacy to be one that points others to my Savior.

2.) Home isn’t found in places or things, but in people, and ultimately in Jesus.  As we consider what things to keep or sell/give away I am learning that those things are not home!  I love my house, but it’s not my home.

3.)  Even if.  Habakkuk 3 talks about a list of terrible things happening, and through each of those things over and over it says, “even if”… “I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in my God, my Savior.  The Sovereign LORD is my strength…”

So, Andrew and I will lift our eyes above those waves, and look to the author and perfecter of our faith.  Because these short lives we have been given, will be lived for Jesus alone.

 

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Overwhelmed

Two posts in October, WHAT?!

I have been very reflective over the last few days as I remember the legacy of, Joy Schildroth, the woman who raised me who has now been with Jesus for almost three years.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss her.  Her dedicated and passionate love for Jesus, her love for her family, or her deep pool of wisdom and grace.  When I think of my sweet Mom, I am inspired and spurred on to keep following Jesus with everything that I have in me.  I saw the fruit of what God does with a life submitted to Him, and I want that.  I want Him.

I have said many things on this blog about our journey to the DR, and our time here.  Andrew and I often joke about feeling like “fake missionaries”, because the word “missionary” feels too noble? Spiritual?  I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem to fit what we are doing here.  To us, all we are doing, and all we have done, is a decision to obey a God who has been unbelievably faithful, and who has loved us with a steadfast love at our best and at our worst.  We are not worthy of being identified with Him, and yet He excitedly identifies with us… at our best and at our worst.

This morning we had the honor of attending the baptism of one of the students here (I’m sure a video will be coming soon…stay tuned).  We were reminded again of how God reaches down and plucks a human life off of a path headed towards destruction.  The faith of that young man, and His decision to not only receive Christ’s forgiveness, but to lay aside the old, and take on the new by making Jesus LORD of His life were such a great encouragement to our hearts.

A life lived faithfully for Jesus, is a life of impact.  It doesn’t have to be perfect because we are not reliant on ourselves.  It just has to be rested on the grace and mercy of a perfect Savior.

Just in case you have never really heard this, I wanted to share the most important reality of our lives.  Who Jesus is, and what He has done and continues to do in us.

Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe, came to this earth and took on human flesh.  He lived a perfect, sinless life and He died on the cross taking on the sin of the world.  He then rose again three days later and conquered death once and for all.  This gives us unhindered access to the throne, to the power that raised Jesus from the dead, and the sacrifice that saves us from the guilt of sin that bring about eternal damnation.  You have to respond though…

  1. Recognize you are a fallen, broken person, and have a whole mess of sin.  (Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”)
  2. Because of that mess, we are separated from God. (Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.”)
  3. Let go of the lie that you have to earn a gift that He gives freely. (Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved, through faith, not of yourselves it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast.”)
  4. Believe Him and His work on the cross that He did on your behalf. (Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his love towards us in this, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 Corinthians 15: 3-4 “…Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures….”
  5. Accept the forgiveness that He offers and lay aside all that stuff that holds you back, and make Him Your LORD – (Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”)

There is nothing you could do, and nothing you have done that would make you ineligible.  God’s love and grace, and ability to identify with our yuck has no limits.

Submit to Him.  Determine to obey His leading in your life, and He will do incredible things in and through you!

This song has been on repeat today… Big Daddy Weave “Overwhelmed”

October 2017 Update

October is about half over, and this has been a pretty good last few weeks.  I began working in the kids Sunday school here, and teach a group of 8 kids every few weeks.  It has been good to brush out some cobwebs in my ministry repertoire.  It had been a long time since I had taught kids in the age range we have here.

We also got away for a few days on a family beach trip to Las Galeras on the Samana peninsula.  It was beautiful, and the best beach experience we have had yet.  The Chalet where we stayed was really unique, and breakfast was served on the porch each morning with a choice of cuisines.  The kids enjoyed drinking out of coconuts. 🙂  It was good to get away and soak in the last six months of change, and growth, and seeing God work.

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Breakfast in the Chalet

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Levi drinking out of a coconut

Homeschooling is going very well.  We have found a good groove and keep chugging along with the lessons.  When school is over for the day, the kids have been quick to play outside.  This has been a work in progress as it was a required activity for a little while but just today I heard them talking about volcanoes, boat rides across the ocean, camping in the dark, wolves in the woods, and rescuing a sleeping princess from a pterodactyl.  I love it.  I especially love how much they enjoy playing with each other.  Even Naomi got to be a monster in the story line for a while after she woke up from nap.

In the last week we gained three more staff.  Two who had been here previously as volunteers, and a new therapist.  It is always fun to welcome new people into the ministry, and to see how they will fit into the current dynamics.  We will have three more staff coming at the end of this month, and the beginning of November.  With that, we are still waiting on more student referrals.  We will have two students graduate in the next month, and have gained three new students in the past few weeks.

We also hosted a couple missions teams this week which allowed me to flex my hosting muscles again.  With the end of Summer comes a slower flow of teams, so we have only had a few teams here and there the last couple months.  We also had a visit this week from a friend from Warsaw.  It was good to see a familiar face, and it was interesting for us to see how far we have come as far as knowing things to do, and even being able to communicate much better.  We will have a few more visits in the coming months, which are always welcome!  We enjoy sharing our life here. 🙂

Another opportunity we have had in the last couple weeks, is a “couples” Bible study with a few of the families from CMA Church.  It’s nice to get to know another family not in our immediate ministry.

Our Spanish lessons continue, and we feel like we are making decent progress.  We missed a couple weeks due to having a visitor, and our family beach trip, but we are eager to get back into it again this week.

Keep praying for the staff.  There have been a lot of trips home during the “lull”.  Pray for rest and productivity during the time at home, and also for them to be encouraged, and to come back encouraged.

Also pray for our students.  The ratios are great for really digging in, but we have a lot of students who are stuck right now.  Pray for soft hearts for the students, and for the staff working with them.  One of the students is getting baptized on Sunday.  We haven’t gone to a baptism here yet, so we are excited to be a part.

Highs and Lows:

Andrew

High: Driving my Prado on the beach through the coconut trees at Playa Rincon.

Low: We did a lot of driving this month between having a visitor here and going to the beach twice, and airport runs.  Even though the distance isn’t long, the driving is very tiring.

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This is how they initially marked a bridge being out on one of the main roads. It’s more seriously marked now. Also where we experienced our first Dominican traffic jam… :O

Erin

High: Getting away for a bit as a family, and our kids finally being brave enough to face their fear of “big waves”.

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The Chalet Tropical

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Playa Rincon Beach

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Playa Rincon

Low: Naomi regularly makes my heart skips beats when she climbs all over the place.  Tile floors and one-year-old heads are not the best combination.

Malachi

High: Finding coral at the ocean, and sleeping in a tree house (the chalet).

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Low: When I don’t get to see my cousins or my friends anymore (he’s been a little more homesick this month).

Levi

High:  Doing the lego challenge every day.

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Helicopter out of only red legos.

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Beach house

Low: Never catching a chicken even though I try all the time (to be exact he tries to hit them with a rock so he can steal their feathers… we’re working on teaching empathy here).

Selah

High: Getting my first pedicure, and swimming in the ocean.

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Low:  Getting scratched by a cat at the chalet.

Naomi

High:  I am a great walker now, and loved going to the ocean!

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Low:  I want to be involved in everything my siblings do, but they don’t appreciate me smashing their sandcastles, demolishing lego creations, scribbling on their school papers, or eating their crayons.  It makes me sad.

September Update

It amazes me how much quicker these monthly blog posts come around!  We are a good level of busy, and continue to be amazed by how God uses this concept of prayer to unite His body in ministry and mission.  I will be honest in saying that prior to this experience I didn’t fully comprehend the value of prayer, and I am barely scratching the surface of how God uses it.  What I do know, is we can approach the throne of grace with confidence because of Christ’s death on the cross (Hebrews 4:16), and that is incredibly humbling.  More than that, the Bible says that the prayers of the faithful accomplish much (James 5:16).  Never think that your prayers for us are not effective.  We are assured in God’s Word that they are, and we are so grateful for your powerful partnership in ministry through it!

We continue to sink into normal life here.  We often get asked how we are doing, and when we answer that things are going well, we get the question, “but how are you REALLY?!”.  It always makes me smile because it is asked with genuine concern and love for us, but really.  We are doing well…. REALLY! 😉

Each month as we get settled into the ministry here, and we find a little bit more (or at least I find a little bit more) where we fit, it feels more and more like home.  It floors me how God uses each of us and the gifts and shaping that He has so tenderly done in us to impact this campus.  Praise the Lord for how he faithfully brings about His work, so often in spite of us!

Before we got here, Andrew was not as confident in his ability to lead others.  In the place he was prior, he needed the time he spent in that position to see his weaknesses and grow professionally, and as a person.  At the time, he was not a fan, but we have frequently referenced those years and so incredibly important to prepare him for where he is now.  He is doing such a good job, in my entirely unbiased opinion, and it has been so much fun to watch him in his element!

For me, I never really had much confidence in my ability to be a good stay at home Mom.  I felt like I wanted to be home with my kids, but always “needed” an outlet to pour myself into.  So I worked.  Part time, and full time in a ministry that I loved.  But always struggled with that balance.  Here, God really laid on my heart that I needed to lean into finding my identity in Him alone.  He stripped away all the titles, and I had to learn to be content in being a passionate Jesus lover, and to figure out how to be a good wife and mom.  I am far from perfect, but I have learned a lot about my own ugly, selfish heart.  In addition, I am loving only thinking about my home, and how I can use it to glorify God.  Since I am home a lot, I have the ability to host many people in our home and I never thought of myself as a good hostess, but I love it.  So, I home school my kids, and spend my days learning my kids, figuring out how to love Andrew better, and trying to encourage others through my home.

Some highs and lows of the last month:

Andrew

High:  Growing in my ability to communicate in Spanish!  Some of that High School education is coming back!

Low: Finding out that our sunroof in our Prado leaks all over our car when it rains heavily.  Thanks Irma, for preparing us for the rainy season!  I think I fixed it?  TBD… Maria?

Erin

High: The home school adventure is finally in a good groove, and the kids are enjoying it, although they still say they don’t!

Low: I am still struggling to figure out cooking good food here.  It has come a long way, but I need to grow in my knowledge of what’s available here, and my oven is a work in progress.  I have a love/hate relationship with it.

Malachi

High:  I have a lot of best friends here.

Low:  I miss my cousins.

Levi

High: I got a new kindle! (Each of the boys got a Kindle to do their school lessons on).

Low: I miss Emory (one of the kids on campus.  She just got back today, after I already asked him what his low was).

Selah

High: Coloring – this is basically all she does.

Low: My shoes are all wet (she jumped in a puddle this weekend, and they finally dried out today).

Naomi

High: I can walk now!

Low: That Daddy installed a lock to keep me from going outside and digging all the dirt out of Mom’s potted plants sixteen times a day… I especially miss eating it and rubbing drool mud all over my face (She regularly lays down on her back and protests this significant frustration in her life).

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Many of you have been praying for us as we continue to learn Spanish. This month we will begin having lessons twice a week, and will potentially be hiring a woman to spend time with our kids and help them to learn Spanish as well.

As you pray for us this month, please pray for more students, and the right students.  We are in a good place with our staffing numbers, and with the overall campus unity, and we are waiting for God to bring in our next group of kids.

Please also pray for Levi and Malachi specifically.  They are afraid of many of the Dominicans because of the language barrier, and all of the discomfort and uncertainty that it brings.  Especially for Malachi who wants to talk everyone’s ears off.  They know we are planning to interview a woman who does not speak any English, and they are not excited about this idea.  Please pray for their hearts as they transition in that way whether or not we hire anyone, and for me to have wisdom as I help them navigate those feelings.

Pray for the staff that are coming.  We are potentially gaining six new staff in the next month, which brings a lot of change.  He has beautifully woven a body of staff here, and we are excited to see how these new individuals and couples will fit in the community here.

Finally, and this is a “how are you REALLY doing” answer… I am currently in a place where, I love God’s word, and I am faithful to read it, but I am not necessarily hungry for it like I want to be.  When we first got here, and in the months leading up to it, God was really using His Word to rock my world and I couldn’t get enough.  Please pray for my faithfulness in pursuing Him regardless of how I feel.

Hurricane Irma

Just a quick post to get the word out for those of you who are concerned and regularly checking in on us (this isn’t anything different than the Facebook post for those of you who saw that).

The DR is scheduled to be on the edge of Hurricane Irma’s path on Thursday around noon or so.  It is predicted to be a level 5 hurricane at that point, but the path prediction has also changed several times in the last few days.  It will likely hit just north of the island, and so we will most likely see heavy rainfall where we are.  We are in a safe place with access to buildings with concrete roofs and paved walk ways.  We are also on high ground.  We are blessed greatly in where we are, and have adequate provisions of propane, electricity with generators, and a good food supply.

This is humbling as we consider those around us, specifically on the North coast.  There are many communities of people that we have driven through whose homes will not fair well during a storm like this.  The rain fall and mudslides are a very real concern for them, in addition to the high winds and inadequate shelter.  As you pray for the East coast and Florida, and for us, please pray for the many islands not mentioned in the news who are in the direct path of the storm.

Thank you for your love and concern for us during this hurricane season.  We will update as we are able after Irma has passed us.

Four Months

Today, we are at exactly four months since we arrived at CMA.  What a full four months it has been!  Lately, on campus, in light of the completion of the Summer program, the staff have been asking one another, “so, what were your highs and lows this Summer?”.  This question is weighty in some ways, and fun to reflect on in others.  Last Saturday was the final day of the Summer program.  We said goodbye to six students who had become a part of our lives here.  We also said goodbye to three interns, who were part of a uniquely woven community of believers.  Goodbyes are hard, but also launch us into finding whatever our new normal is.  So, I suppose, as we sit and ponder the Summer, with all of it’s highs and lows, we also can’t help but look towards the future and all of the potential of what God is going to continue doing through this campus.

Last Sunday night we had a goodbye party for our interns, who had become family.  The Summer is never quite long enough when it means a shift in our identity as a community at the end.  I’m excited to see how God uses those three women in the future!  That party was also a celebration of all that was accomplished during the Summer program.  There were a lot of nerves going into the Summer program.  In what it would look like, as the Summer in years past were very taxing on the staff.  I am so pleased to share that it went beautifully.  All six families have reported nothing but good things about what we were able to accomplish in eight short weeks.  We have gotten several good reports even from families whose students didn’t soften as much as we would have hoped.  In addition to the therapeutic, and interpersonal efforts, there was much biblical truth communicated to each student, some of whom would have never heard or seen the gospel lived out in the ways that it is here.  It’s amazing to watch God work through weary hearts who are willing to be clay pots for His glory.

2 Corinthians 4:7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

As for our highs and lows?

Andrew

High: “Kids and parents from the Summer program requesting to come back, or to be/for their child to be long term students in the future.  Pico Duarte was also a high as it allowed me to build relationships with staff, and with students.  I also worked in the house this Summer which was beneficial in a multitude of ways.”

Low: “That I can’t speak Spanish yet.”

Erin

High: “Hosting staff, students, and missions teams in our home, and being forced to figure out how to be a better support for Andrew and my family.”

Low: “The way that the language barrier hinders me from connecting on a deeper level with the Dominican people, and even more specifically with the Dominican staff.  Even going to the grocery store is sad, because I can’t encourage the person at the register, or make them feel valued.”

Malachi

High: “That we can catch lizards and frogs.  And freeze beetles!” (Thanks Greg and Joan!)

Low:  “That I get hurt all the time.” (He really does scrape his knees a lot).

Levi

High: “Painting rocks and catching lizards”

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Low: “Getting stung by wasps and bees.” (He really does get stung a lot)

Selah

High: “I love Jon.” (The student pastor)

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Low: “The big lizards that bite me.” (I don’t think she has ever been bitten, but she is scared of the green anoles because they have bitten others…).

Naomi

High: I am learning to like people who I don’t know.  Also, I spend my days getting as dirty as possible- and then get baths every day.  I love both the getting dirty, and the baths.

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Low: When I have to wait for Mom to get me food in the pavilion.  It really ticks me off.

So there you have it.  The last few months condensed into very simple highs and lows.

For those of you who consistently pray for us, thank you for your continued prayers.  Please pray for the following as you think of us:

The campus: We need male house staff, three of them to be exact.  Please pray for God to provide the right men in his timing.  Also pray for our long term students.  Several will be transitioning home in the next month.  While this is a good thing, it’s still hard, and scary for many of them.

Our family:  Homeschooling is in full swing.  Pray for Mama to have patience, and for Malachi (K5) and Levi (PK4) to learn and grow a lot this year.  Andrew and I are in a good place right now in how we are relating to one another.  Pray for continued grace and patience as we continue this lifelong process of loving one another well.  Also pray for us as we continue learning Spanish.  It’s a slow and steady process.

July 15, 2017

Three months in, and we are starting to find our groove here.  The kids and I are settled into a routine, and Andrew feels like he has a good grasp on where the campus is, and is more confident in making decisions as he leads the ministry forward.  With that, I have never seen Andrew on his knees as much for wisdom in decisions as I have since we have been here.  Pray for that dependency and submission to remain on his heart.

The last few weeks threw off our routine a little bit as Andrew hiked Pico Duarte with the male residents, and a few male staff members the last week of June, and then the following week, I also had the opportunity to hike Pico Duarte with the girls house and several of the female staff members.  Both weeks were good, filled with great conversations, some rain, some blistered feet and sore muscles, some motivational speeches and a whole lot of soaking in the beauty of God’s creation.

Following our weeks on Pico, we had our first visitors from Warsaw.  Greg and Joan Harden, our pastor and his wife came down for five days.  In addition to a whole lot of encouragement, and fun, Greg and Andrew did some exploring while Joan did some cleaning out of the overgrown flower beds in the front, and both of us tried to hide our excitement when we learned the prices of some of the plants I was able to buy to refill some of that space from a greenhouse in town.  It was sad for all of us to drop them off at the airport, but we did so with full hearts, and gratitude for their prayer and support that has helped us get here.  It was also a good reminder of all of the faithful prayers and dollars that keep us here.  We are blessed by each of you.  The kids were also excited to see some familiar faces, but we have noticed Malachi communicating some voids he is feeling and people he is missing.

Since the last post, our Summer program officially began and we added 6 students to the program for an 8 week period of time.  They have settled in well, and were also able to participate in the Pico adventures.  The kick off weekend went really well and we are excited about what God is already doing and will continue doing until the end of the program in another four weeks.  Please pray for the staff and students as we finish out those weeks.

God continues to encourage us with His never ending love and faithfulness as we stumble around seeking to grow closer to Him.

As you pray for us, please continue to pray for us as we continue to learn Spanish.  The language continues to be a hurdle, but I genuinely feel as though it improves a little bit each week as we add words, and understanding through lessons, and just being around it.

Please also pray for us to stay humble and reliant in the roles that God has us in.

Thank you for your continued love.  We couldn’t do this without you!

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6/8/2017

This might not be a typical, light-hearted, “look at some cool pictures” kind of post.  Those have their place, but let me tell you a secret in this whole blogging thing.  When I sit down to write out a post to update you, I just start writing.  At the end, I come back up here to the top and write this lame introductory paragraph.  I want to be okay living heart wide open with whatever that brings.  So while the fun stuff and pictures are fun to share, that isn’t what I feel led to share today, the following is what I did.

When I think back on this month the word that comes to mind is “good”.  The good I am talking about is not a passive, socially acceptable, generic “good”.  The good I want to share, is a wrestling, heart filling, peace experiencing, all-encompassing, God given good.

The work here is good.  The staff and families on this campus are committed, and full-hearted servants of the students here.  The love is tangible in conversations that you hear in the pavilion, in chapel services that truly communicate “come as you are”,  in bike rides, and in words of encouragement during a school day, or on a service project.  Most of the time, Andrew and I aren’t the ones on the front lines in these moments, but we get a front row seat in to the beautiful ways that God is at work in the staff, and in the students.

The community is good.  We haven’t been here that long, but the way that these people love and serve one another is beautiful.  God took a family through a difficult medical situation with their toddler a couple weeks ago and the ways that people jumped in to clean their home, fill the fridge, do laundry, and check in with them throughout the day was a real life picture of the body of Christ working together.  It’s not always sunshine and roses on this campus.  People don’t always see eye-to-eye on things, culture shock hits, discouragement engulfs, family struggles happen, God doesn’t look like we expect Him to and trusting Him is just plain hard.  Real life happens here.  The same real life stuff that we all live with no matter where on the globe God has us.

Our marriage is good and we are good (not perfect).  Last night, we were able to get away for the evening (in thanks to that community I was talking about, taking care of our kiddos).  We were able to celebrate Andrew’s birthday (June 5th) and our 9th wedding anniversary (June 6th) kid free (WHHAAAAAT?!).  As we sat on a balcony in Cabarete on the North Coast of this island-home, we were struck with such thankfulness for many things. God has grown us, and painfully removed so much selfishness and pride in these nine years through this union He designed.  We have had some really ugly spots in our marriage where sin was rampant, and yet here we are, wholly because of His grace, still crazy about each other, with a pretty cool crew of kids.  We never pictured the years we have lived together being what they have been.  Working with juvenile sex offenders isn’t usually on anyone’s bucket list, but that was our life for much of our marriage up until our international move (also not on our bucket list).  We just served where God had us, and were genuinely committed to whatever God called us to and have been changed in so many ways because of both of those GOOD experiences.

Alright, there was a lot of heavy stuff there, but it’s life.  It’s your lives too, I just changed some words and scenarios!

  • Maybe your marriage is not in a good place right now.
  • Maybe God is richly blessing your decision to obey and yield to Him.
  • Maybe you are facing the consequences of refusing to obey Him.
  • Maybe you have a kid who is out of control and you don’t know what to do.
  • Maybe today was the best day of your whole life.
  • Maybe you are obedient to Him, and He feels 100 miles away.
  • Maybe you need community.
  • Maybe you are so discouraged you feel swallowed by it.

Wherever you are.  Whatever the circumstance.  I have experienced this truth specifically:  God is good.  Not just a churchy, read your Bible, pray every day good… but good.  I just read Psalm 34 on Sunday morning, and it was incredibly encouraging as I had just poured my sinful, wandering heart out to Him.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Good is not always a perfect marriage.  Good is not necessarily a flawless, smooth ministry.  Good isn’t a sinless walk with Christ.  Good isn’t always what we are looking for, and try to fill up with.  Good is a relationship with a good Father who loves You tenderly, and whole heartedly in spite of your fleshly desires to run in the opposite direction.  He longs to be your refuge, and to pour out blessing of relationship and security in Himself on You.

He is good.

This living in the Dominican thing?  Also good.  With all the mess that comes with it.

If you are regularly praying for us:

Pray for unity and focus on this campus – Satan likes disunity when a ministry is effective and there is plenty of room for that to take us captive.

Pray for Andrew to continue seeking God’s heart for this campus, and to stay focused.

Pray for our Summer program students who arrive on June 16th (we only get 8 weeks- pray for them to be effective, spirit-filled weeks).

Pray for me as I am staying home with our kiddos full time and desiring to instill truth in their rebellious hearts – it’s exhausting.  I have never stayed home full time, and am thankful for the opportunity, but it is really hard, and quickly draws out much of that NOT good stuff in me.