You Should Go
Nov
27

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.

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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.

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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.

“Where?”

“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.

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“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.

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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?

Oct
23

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

A Full Season
Aug
29

A Full Season

Hi Everyone!  It’s been a really full summer season around here!  In the last few weeks, we’ve gotten to host our first missions team and hold our first outreach Holiday Bible Club (aka VBS).  We’re learning so much, and it’s been really cool to see how the Lord is using our church and children’s ministry and others who would partner with us for the work of the Gospel in Cork!  Click on the image below to see a highlight video from our Holiday Bible Club:We had over 60 kids come to Holiday Bible Club this year – with about a third of them not previously associated with our church.  A few weeks before the event, I was chatting with a friend of mine from church, about just being authentic and Christlike to those around us, showing non-believers that Christians aren’t crazy and that Jesus is kind.  She is an amazing example of this and had invited a few of her neighbors (all non-believers) to the club.  Because of her family’s relationship with them, three neighborhood families brought their kids!

Some of the kids had unanswered questions about God and the Bible.  They came, heard the Gospel, got to play games, sing songs, make crafts, do activities, and ask real questions.  In the end, two of the girls, along with my friend’s own daughter, prayed to receive salvation!  All the work, organization, prayer, and preparation (both on our end and the team that came and served so well!) – seeing those girls (and about a dozen other kids who prayed as well!) come to the Lord – it was all worth it!  The greatest joy!

Sitting in the car, chatting with my friend weeks before, we talked about how the kids she invited from the neighborhood had likely never been to a Christian church service before, maybe never had the opportunity to truly hear the message of salvation.  And they’d be coming, with their questions and excitement for an event, and they’d hear the Gospel.

I’m more aware now than ever before, that the real, soul-saving work is done by the Lord.  Only He apprehends hearts, calls even the youngest child to Himself, brings us from death to life.  But He gives us a part too, if we’re willing.  Our part is to point to Jesus, to live authentic, Christ-centered lives each day, to combat any misconceptions about God by living in and walking out His love in real ways.  And to serve, to work hard and be spent, to participate in what the Lord is doing in the community He’s placed us in, to help make a space where people can hear the Good News, to meet Jesus, and to invite them to come.

We’re so grateful – that the Lord would include us, allow us be a part of what He’s doing here in Cork.  And we’re incredibly thankful for our church, and for others that would link arms and serve the Lord and His people here.

As we close out the summer, please pray with us about:

  1. All the kids who came to HBC and the families they represent.  They learned that God is the Great Creator, that He is capable of taking care of them, and that He cares greatly for each one of them.  Pray that these truths would go down deep, continued to be watered, and that we’d see many more come to the Lord in faith!
  2. The more than a dozen kids who prayed to receive Christ on the last day of HBC!  That their faith and realization of God’s love would grow!
  3. For Calvary Cork and all that the Lord is doing in this city.
  4. For Calvary Aurora, that the Lord would bless them greatly for the team and support that they sent!  That those who came would take hold of all that the Lord has for them, and that God would bless them for serving the children and families of Ireland.
  5. For us personally as we get ready to begin the new school year and season of ministry here.  Along with children’s ministry, Branden and I have felt a burden for the growing population of teens in our church.  In September, we’ll begin overseeing a youth ministry for the young people in our fellowship and any friends they might bring along!

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A couple other things to note:

Our Holiday Bible Club t-shirts were provided at great discount by Zazzle.com!  The quality was great and, although there was a little hiccup in the shipping, they worked with expediency to take care of it and get us our shirts in time for the event!  Thanks so much Zazzle!

The theme for our Holiday Bible Club this year was the Discovery Lab – Finding the Creator in Creation!  It’s an apologetics look at creation and functioned somewhat like a three day science camp.  We are very excited to say that we wrote it ourselves and that we are working to make it available for others to use!  Stay tuned for updates if you’re looking for a VBS or multiple day kids event to do!

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As you pray, if you feel led to give to he ministry here financially, you can do so by clicking on “Support Us” at the top of this page.  Then scroll down and follow the prompts to give one time or set up monthly, recurring support.  You can also give by check made out to Small World Big God (our non-profit) and mail to PO Box 305, Deer Trail, CO 80105.  All donations are tax deductible and go to support our family’s living and ministry costs here.

Thank you for praying, for reading and being a part of what God is doing in Cork, Ireland!  God is up to big things, and we’re grateful for the church worldwide who would partner in this work!

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