Part 1: First Furlough

It feels crazy that it’s May already!  Our last update was at the end of December.  Since then we moved into a new house and went on our first furlough back to the United States!  Moving was sort of a whirlwind.  I think it always is, but we needed to pack, paint at the new house, move, unpack everything, pack all our suitcases again, and leave for an international trip – all in the span of about a month!  I’m so thankful for the community the Lord has given us here in Cork – people who help you fill boxes, paint, load and unload your stuff, clean your house, and even feed you!  There’s no way we could have moved like we did without them!

And a month later we were on a plane.  Our first time off the island since we arrived in October of 2016.  Our first time going home.  I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect…how we would feel, if it would be hard to come back.  We were looking forward to being with family, catching up with friends, hanging out with people we love, and eating all the food we missed!  But I was honestly worried, especially for the boys.  What if the novelty of moving to Ireland, being on this great adventure had worn off for them?  After all, now we had a routine, school and chores and normal things.  What if they didn’t want to come back?

The day before we left, a friend came over to say goodbye before our trip.  She brought the boys a few little things to occupy them on the long plane ride, and she handed me a card she’d made.   On the front, she’d written Deuteronomy 31:8:

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you…do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

And on the back, Isaiah 40:11:

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

A great comfort – Jesus sees us, knows us, and goes with us.  It sounds so basic, and not very glamorous, but knowing that we are not alone, that God Himself loves us and cares for the things we care about, that He is with us – sometimes it feels like all the assurance we have.  But it is enough!


We landed in Denver, spent a day and a half there, and drove up to see Branden’s family in Wyoming.  While we were there, they got a three day blizzard!  Leaving Ireland in February, it was cold and wet, but this was a different kind of cold!  A big blizzard meant lots of sledding for the boys, driving a snow mobile, and even ice fishing!

Branden and his dad took the boys out on the ice for about three hours.  They hand drilled holes, dropped lines, and even caught a few fish!  By the end of it, Ethan was frozen!  When I asked him how it went, he said, “Yeah, I would go ice fishing again, as long as it wasn’t cold!”  Just fishing then :)

After about a week, we drove back down to Denver, hopped in a rental car with my parents, and drove to Phoenix.  Two of my sisters moved there last year.  They were each pregnant with their first babies when we left for Ireland.  Their babies were born five weeks apart and both celebrated their first birthdays right before we arrived back in the States.  I couldn’t wait to meet them!


Part 6: We’re Going On A Furlough!

Okay guys, last part of the update!  If you’ve been following the whole way, THANKS SO MUCH!  If you haven’t caught the other parts, you can find them here:

Part 1: Happy Tuesday

Part 2: Wednesday

Part 3: A New House

Part 4: Shawn

Part 5: These Boys


So, as I mentioned, we’re taking a FURLOUGH!!  This will be the first time we’ve left the island or visited the States since we arrived over fourteen months ago (16 by the time we go).

We head to Colorado on February 13th (yay!).  There aren’t a ton of details yet for our time there, but we’re planning on spending a week in Wyoming with Branden’s family, a week with my sisters (and new nephew and niece!) in Arizona, and another week out of state for a ministry conference.  We’re hoping to be in Colorado for the weekend of March 10th and won’t leave until the 27th.  It already feels like the time is too short!  And somehow also so long to be away from Cork.

We are hoping to catch up with lots of people, though we know there just won’t be enough time for all the one-on-ones we’re dreaming of!  We’re planning at least one event where we can see lots of faces and hug people and hopefully share a bit more of what we’ve gotten to be a part of over the last year+  And of course, we’re hoping to eat at the places we’ve been craving, go to places that don’t exist here, and stock up some stuff we’ve been missing!

The boys were asking the other day if we could just go to Target and walk around, not even shopping, just to visit!  They also wanted to somehow transport a slushy from Sonic back to Ireland.  So…not everything will be possible haha!  But we will definitely make the most of our time while we’re there!

If the Lord brings it to mind, would you please pray for the following needs?

  • Our house transition: packing, painting, moving, cleaning, unpacking, etc.
  • Preparations for our furlough – for us and the team of servants who will be doing children’s ministry while we’re away
  • Branden as he continues to prepare lesson plans and write curriculum
  • The boys and I with school, especially through all this transition
  • Shawn, and the other kids in the neighborhood – for seeds planted and the work God wants to continue in their hearts and families
  • The community we’ll be going to and the work God wants to do there

Also, as you pray, if you feel led to support the ministry in Cork financially, please click here or use the link at the top of this page entitled “Support Us.”  You can give a one-time gift or get set up to be a monthly supporter.  All donations are tax deductible and go through our nonprofit, Small World Big God, to support our family and the work God is doing here in Ireland.

Also, one small note, if you’re wanting a donation to count towards your 2017 taxes, please be sure to give before midnight Mountain Standard Time on December 31st.

Thank you all so much for reading and for being a part of what God is doing here in Ireland!  We are greatly humbled, deeply blessed, and continually encouraged by your faithfulness in prayer and practical support!  Following the Lord can sometimes be overwhelming, but I’m reminded that our safety, our peace is assured in fellowship – with the Shepherd Himself, and with the flock.  Thank you for being with us.

Here’s to the year ahead and all He has in store!  May we follow wherever He leads – the best is yet to come!


Part 2: Wednesday

This is Part 2 in a series of posts!  If you didn’t catch the first one, click on the link below and read that one first.  Things will make more sense then!

Part 1: Happy Tuesday!


Wednesday morning, I called Silas into our room.

“I want you to sit with the verse and see what the Lord might say.”

Before moving out of our building and into the school, the church was having a last event, a worship night.  A few of the musicians, including myself, would get to lead some songs and we’d asked a few of the older kids to read verses and maybe bring a word to encouragement to the church.

Originally Silas had agreed to read a verse.  Then a few days before, he wanted to back out.

“We won’t make you if you really don’t want to read, but you have to give a real reason.  We don’t say we’ll do things and then just leave people hanging.  Why don’t you want to read now?”  After a minute or so, Silas said, “I just don’t feel like God has spoken to me in a while Mom.”

What an honest answer.  “You know what?  We all feel that way sometimes.”  He looked up.  “Have you been praying lately?  Sitting with the Word and listening?”

“Not really, I guess.”  Another honest answer.

We assured him again that if he really didn’t want to read, he didn’t have to.  But after some time, he came back and said he would do it.  The verse he’d been given was Joshua 1:9:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Wednesday morning I asked him to sit with his Bible and pray.  After about half an hour, he came back to me.

“Mom, I think God spoke to me.”  He was smiling a little.  “He said that He loves us.  And we don’t have to be scared, because He’s going to take care of us and go with us.”

“That’s great buddy!”

“And I think He means it for the church too.”

I smiled.  He had taken it for himself.  And God had given him an encouragement he could truly share, because it was for him first.

“Does that sound like God?” He was hopeful and little and it made me happy how honest he was.

“Yes, it does.”


The worship night went well and Silas did a great job.  Later that week, the church would finish the chaotic whirlwind of packing and moving.  That first weekend in the school went well.  There are new challenges, like setting up and tearing down everything, sharing spaces, but we are slowly figuring it out.

One morning later that week, we were starting the day with some personal Bible time.  The boys had the task of picking and reading a chapter of their choice, anywhere in the Bible, praying, and then writing it into their journals and drawing a picture.  Ethan picked Psalm 34, a chapter he’s never read before but somehow landed on.

“Do you want me to read it to you Mom?” he asked.


I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. 

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit…”

Ethan’s voice got weak as he read that line.  He finished the chapter.

“Are you okay Ethan?”

He left the room; I didn’t follow.

A few minutes later he returned.  “Is there a verse that stuck out to you?”

“This one,” he pointed to verse 18. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Branden walked into the room just then, and saw Ethan’s face.  “What’s wrong?”

“Ethan was reading through this Psalm, and said this verse stuck out to him,” I said, using my parenting tag team voice.  Ethan read the verse again.

“Are you heartbroken Ethan?” Branden asked him.

“A little,” he managed to get out and then began crying again.

“Me too buddy.”  Branden scooped him up and held him for a few seconds.  He said something encouraging that Ethan already knew but needed to hear, then told him a joke and wrestled with him until Ethan was laughing.  He always knows how to bring us out of it.

“Ethan, why don’t you write the verse into your journal, okay?”

“Okay Mom.”

I looked at Branden and smiled.  I’m thankful I get to do most things with him, and that the goodness we have is sourced in Jesus.  And I’m thankful for how God is meeting my kids, right where they are, in ways they are truly comforted in, through His Word.

When we moved the Ireland, the boys were definitely more “along for the ride.”  Of course we prayed as a family and talked a lot about leaving for the mission field, but in the end, they came because they had to, not because it was their choice.  Even though this is hard, I can see how they’ve grown over the last year.  They are seeking the Lord and opening His Word, finding Him in the unknown, and feeding on His faithfulness.  This is their story as much as it is ours.  Honestly as a mom, it’s humbling, and I’m grateful for these opportunities to grow in Jesus as a family.

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