It’s Okay

This is the second part of a blog post series.  If you haven’t read the first one, please do so at the link below before continuing.  Things will make a lot more sense that way!  Thanks for reading!

Part One – You Should Go


The next few weeks were filled with collecting documents, writing emails, putting things in the mail, making phone calls, doing whatever we could think of to get our visa extension approved.  We wrote an email to the immigration department in Dublin, telling them about the trip we’d had planned to the Philippines, and about Branden’s trip to the UK.  Their response was quick and definite – if we left the country without our visas being secure, we’d be denied re-entry at the border.

The boys and I were meant to fly on Thursday, October 25th.  We’d submitted our documents and request for the extension and gotten a letter in the post saying everything had been received.  I had a peace from the Lord that it would be approved.  What I didn’t know was when.  As the days and weeks went by, I began to settle in my heart that we most likely would not be joining my family in the Philippines.

People were praying for our visas, that they’d come through and quickly.  Those that knew about the trip were heavy-hearted with us and praying that somehow things would work out for us to go.  Some days I was fine, successfully entrusting my emotions to the Lord.  Other days I was a mess.  Branden would find me crying by myself.  He’d pull me close and just pray.

We weren’t supposed to be able to go.  Why would God provide, knowing that the timing wouldn’t work out?  I was relieved I hadn’t told the boys.  I made the phone call to my mom. It was awful.  Not a lot of things worst than watching your mom cry over FaceTime.

The Sunday before we were supposed to get on the plane, my friend Barbara caught me at church.  She and her husband own a jewelry business in their town.  She said there was a politician who they were acquainted with, that had his office there.

“You should go in and try to meet with him, let him know that you have this trip coming up, and that you need his help with your visa!”

I had all but resolved that we wouldn’t be going.  She talked with such determination, that we should explain that we’d had this trip planned for so long, that all we needed was a letter saying we could get back into the country.

“Maybe pop into his office tomorrow, and see what he can do!”

Later, she texted me his location and phone number.  I talked to Branden.  In the morning, we drove down to his office.

His secretary told us he wasn’t there and asked what we needed.  We explained our situation.  They let us know that their office couldn’t really help us, but that there was a place in the city centre that helps with visas.  They wrote down the details and sent us on our way.  We drove to the city and found the office.  Two and a half hours later, we finally sat down with someone.  Someone who had never dealt with our particular visa.  She pulled up the website we’d already been working from and read the info aloud, mostly to herself, and apologized she couldn’t be more helpful.  Another discouraging day.

Barbara called me the next day to ask how things had gone.  Not great.  I really didn’t see how things were going to work out for us to go, but she only seemed more determined!

“Why don’t I meet you in the morning, and we can go back into the politician’s office together?”

In the morning, I left the boys at home with Branden and met Barbara.  Part of me felt like it would be useless.  It was Wednesday.  We were supposed to get on our flight at 8:15pm on Thursday night.  We’d been trying everything we could for weeks with no progress.  Another part of me thought, “Hey, it can’t hurt right?  This might be just how the Lord wants to work things out.”

We walked into the office; the secretary recognized me from two days before.  She walked to the counter with a pen and paper.  I explained our visa situation again and that we’d followed their advice and had gone to the place in the city, but that they’d been unable to help us.  Then Barbara spoke up.

“It’s just that they have this trip planned, and they really need someone to sort something before tomorrow!  Please, anything you can do to help.  Is there someone you can call?  Anything!”

I had to smile at how passionate she sounded.  Barbara also has family living abroad, and I knew she knew how important it was to be with your people.  The secretary wrote down my information and said to keep my phone nearby, that their office would call another politician’s office in a different town, who might be able to do something for us.

Barbara and I left and went to a coffee shop where we chatted for a while and waited for my phone to ring.  Nothing.  We walked to our cars and I told her I’d keep her updated.

2pm – Barbara texts me to ask if anyone’s called.  Nothing.

3:30pm – She texts again.  Nothing.  She messages that she’s going to drive down and go back into the office.  Twenty minutes later my phone rings.  It’s Barbara.  She greets me and hands the phone to the secretary who tells me she’s going to send a message to the immigration department in Dublin.  She tells me to keep my phone on, and that someone will call me before 5pm.  At this point, I’m really thankful for Barbara!  Even if things don’t work out, she’s fighting for us!

5pm comes and goes.  My heart settles back into resolved disappointment.  We tried right?  We really did.  Maybe it’s just not the Lord’s will for us to go.  And I don’t get it, but that’s okay.  It’s going to be okay.

I cried on and off the rest of the night.  “There’s still time,” Branden said, trying to encourage me.  “Let’s give it until noon tomorrow.”

“There’s just no more time Branden.  It’s fine.  Even if they did call by noon and somehow emailed us our extension letter, we’d still have to go down to the Garda station to get them to update our file.  The last time we went down there, we were in that line for four hours.  I haven’t packed anything.  We’re not going be able to go, and it’s fine.”  I was telling myself too.  It’s fine.  It’s just one of those things that I don’t understand.  But God is still good.  I would see my family in the spring, Lord willing, when we go on furlough.  It’s okay.

You Should Go

You Should Go

One of the coolest parts, I think, about walking with the Lord, is being able to tell His stories!  And I do mean “His stories,” because there’s just no way I could make this stuff up!  I’ve said it before, and I mean it in the most respectful way – Jesus is crazy!  Walk with Him long enough, and you’ll see – He’ll do what we cannot, in ways that only He can take credit.  And all the things that make a good story – an impossible situation, a desperate need, our great inability to fix a problem, a heroic rescue!  It’s all there.  To Him be the glory!  Psalm 9:1 says:

“I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all your marvelous works.”

It is my great privilege to tell His stories.


We’ve been home for a little over two weeks now, and I still can’t believe how it happened…

Some of you know that Branden and I were facing some challenges with securing our visas for our third year here in Ireland.  A couple of months ago, we went to renew them and, after standing in line for almost four hours, were told that the laws regarding our visas have recently changed.  We are now only guaranteed two years on our particular visa, and we’ve already used them.  If we want to stay any longer, we need to send documents in to Ireland’s immigration department and ask for an extension.  Once we have permission in writing, we can go back, stand in the crazy line again, and then apply.

That news came as a bit of a shock honestly.  We walked away from the Garda station a little off balance, dazed, anxious.  We had no plans of leaving Ireland or stopping the work we’d been doing with Calvary Cork.  We had no plans of doing anything else at all.  Now everything was up in the air, and it seemed we had very little control over our family’s future.  And not even control, we had no idea what would even happen.

“The Lord has a good plan,” Branden reassured me.

Yes, but what was it?

All these thoughts came then.  We were walking in the city, sending messages to our pastor and some of the leaders in our church, letting them know the situation.  The boys were talking, I remember too loud.  Branden was holding my hand and speaking quietly, to himself, to me.  I knew he was worried too.  My heart felt physically heavy in my chest and I knew if I let myself, I could just start crying, lose it right there on Oliver Plunkett Street.


Among all the things this could mean, there was this trip we had planned.  The boys and I were supposed to meet my parents and sisters and their families in the Philippines at the end of October to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday.  The last (and only other) time I’d ever been there was twenty years ago, and this would be the first time for the boys!

When my mom first told me about wanting to go (over a year ago now), I told her there was no way we could join them.  She was planning two and a half weeks of sight-seeing, eating amazing food, enjoying beaches, and more.  Maybe most special of all, we’d spend the entire time with her only sister, my Aunt and Uncle who are missionaries in the Philippines.  I remember when we first moved to Ireland, having a conversation with my Aunt, knowing that this life the Lord had called us both to meant that we may never be in the same country at the same time again.  I love her, and this thought was a bit heart wrenching, but we’d both accepted it.  Now there was this trip, but there was just no way.

I’d explained to my mom that we just didn’t have the money.  She reassured me that they would help cover the expenses while we were there – food, transportation, activities.  But even then, just airline tickets would be far more than we could cover.

For a while, anytime we’d chat, she’d talk about the plans for “when we go to the Philippines.”  Different activities, places she was arranging for us to see.  I knew she was excited and speaking with the hope that somehow we’d all be able to be there together.  In the spring, I finally asked her to stop.  It was too hard listening to all the things we’d be missing out on.  And I knew the longer she thought about the trip with us there, the harder it would be when reality hit.  She didn’t like that conversation.  Neither did I.  But we both understood.

Fast forward to June.  I was having a conversation with a friend, and we were talking about living away from family.  She’d spent some time abroad as well and knew the challenges, to herself, to her kids.  I was telling her about this trip, how living away had its challenges for us, but also for our families.  This is the reality and maybe for us, the hardest part of following the Lord to far away places.

“You have to go!” she said.


“To the Philippines!  This would be a once in a lifetime trip!”

” I know, but there’s no way.”  I was a bit confused actually.  I’d already explained that.

“I’m going to pay for the tickets.”

“What?” More confusion.

“I’ve been looking them up while we’ve been talking.  It’s totally doable.  You should definitely go!”

The rest of the conversation was sort of a blur.  I think I told her there was no way she could do that, that maybe she should talk with her husband first!  She said they’d actually already talked, not about the trip, but that they felt like the Lord wanted them to send us a certain amount of money for support, the same amount of money that it seemed we needed to go to the Philippines!

I was still in shock.  Was there really a way we could go?  I told her I’d talk to Branden and call her later.


“You should absolutely go!” Branden said, looking at the calendar app on his phone.  “The conference in the UK is right in the middle of the trip, so I probably can’t join you, but you and the boys should be there.”

I’d forgotten about a children’s ministry conference Branden and I had agreed to teach at.  They’d asked Branden initially in the spring.  He’d mentioned that I was available to teach too, if they needed more instructors, and that was the plan.  Now Branden was typing an email to the director, letting him know that he would be there and pick up the slack for anything I was supposed to do, but that I would be otherwise engaged.

I called my friend.  A few days later, the tickets were booked.  We were going to the Philippines!

I called my mom, who was both laughing and crying out of happiness!  All of her children and grandchildren would be in the Philippines, celebrating together!

I didn’t tell the boys.  I actually never tell them anything until we’re on the way to do it.  It means lots of surprises for them, and no incessant “How much longer?” and “When is it going to happen?!” questions for me.  This would be a BIG surprise!  It’s interesting, moving away from the only home your kids have known, what kinds of things they say they miss.  Some are the same as you, some are surprisingly different.  We all agree; time with family is precious.


Okay, back to a couple months ago with the visa, or lack of visa really.  With all the crazy, unsettled thoughts swirling in my head, I pictured my mom.  Would we be able to go on this trip with our visas up in the air?  What would she say?  How would she take it?


October 2018 Video Update

Hi Everyone, Branden and I thought we’d do a video update this month!  Just a few things going on with us here in Cork as well as a pretty urgent prayer request we have at the moment.  Thank you so much for watching, supporting us in prayer, and being a part of what the Lord is doing here in Ireland!  We love you all xoxo

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