Sunday, November 22, 2009

Raising Missionaries :)

Our next hurdle with our sending team is our psych evaluations. Although this is a "shoe in" (tongue in cheek) it isn't what it seems. It is basically, looking/finding stress points, to get them- before they get us, in the field :)

So, while waiting on these tests and results, which will take about a month, I'm getting ready for the next phase in our training...fundraising.

This is the thing that I've been dreading since we told God yes. Why? I have no idea! Other than maybe the humbling part?? I hate to "beg for money", as I've always thought it was...but I've been reading a book, that is (once again) changing my attitudes and thoughts.

The book is called "People Raising" by William P. Dillon. Although I've just started the book, the following passage has kicked me in the butt: "
'Oh, so you're a missionary. I see. That's nice. Uh...very interesting. Well, best of luck. See you later."
I could almost see the wall of nonunderstanding develop in some cases.
'A missionary? Wow, I'd better be careful what I say. This guy must have a hotline to God. Why would anyone want to throw his life away like that? I feel sorry for him--all that suffering and persecution he will go through in some out-of-the-way corner of the world.'
Oh, the monologue was never spoken, but I could read it between the lines. And it made me uncomfortable. I didn't want to be different; I wanted to be a plain old ordinary sinner, just like everybody else. I didn't want to be a hotline to God. Sometimes I wasn't even sure I knew His number. And most of all, I didn't want to be pitied. That turned my stomach.
Maybe it was that word--"missionary". Maybe it should be thrown out...Too many barnacles clinging to it... Anyway, it's not my fault that people don't understand what a missionary really is--or is it?"

I'm only on page 51 of almost 300, but I've learned (so far) that we are not to be bothered with "raising funds", but raising stronger Christians. God will provide our every need, and He will use us to touch hearts, so that our every need is provided for...THROUGH HIM.

Let me try to explain a little. As Christians, we are to worship God...period. Part of that worship experience is to give back to God and to share His love with others. We do both with mission work.

We share our faith/love of God to the world, and we allow our friends in Christ to partner with us and share the rewards through the fundraising experience.

Not everyone is called to go to the actual field, but we are all called to share our faith. When someone supports financially in a missionary, they share the rewards given to that missionary (through God). They are taking part in the mission field, just as if they were out there themselves, physically.

This verse just came to me, as I type this out: 1Samuel 30 David and his men were at war with the Amalekites. Some of his men became wore out and were left behind, while the rest of the army went on to attack and plunder the Amalekites. As the army returned, they were greeted by the ones that stayed behind. "As David and his men approached, he greeted them. But the evil men and troublemakers among David's followers said, 'Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder.'...David replied, 'No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us...The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.'"

Wow, take a minute and breathe that in...words straight from God to your eyes :)

I'm now getting excited to share our ministry needs, when the time comes, with others. It's not "begging for money", it's joining forces and allowing EVERYONE to partner with us. It's getting our rewards in Heaven while we build HIS KINGDOM in worship :)

Loving God, Loving Each Other, Serving God, Reaching the Lost, Growing and Maturing

Today is a growth and mature segment...and I thank you for sharing it and partnering with us!

Please continue prayers for us as we prepare our house to go on the market in the next several months, place our horses in good homes, and continue in the testing process (spiritually and physically).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Judge Not...

Another meeting with our home church! An "adjustable" timeline has been set with them. We won't know more definite dates until after March, but it looks like departing late summer of 2011 is on paper! Over the next 20 months, we have some online theology classes, some traveling with other classes (Louisville, KY and Colorado); and at least three different short term "out of country trips" (two to Italy; and one, elsewhere).

I started the LONG process of apartment hunting. We are in a catch 22...if we put our farm on the market, and it sells fast, we are homeless. However, if we wait to put the farm on the market, and it takes a while to sell, we will have to remain here (in the US) until it is sold. UGH!! So, we are making a tough decision of WHEN! It looks like, right now, we may put the farm on the market in the Spring. If it sells slow then we will have over a year to contend with the realtor. However, if it sells right away (and it just might with the deal we're giving) we will need to move to an apartment.

Another perk in apartments, is that when we have to do all of this traveling, then there are no "at home" obligations (animals/mowing/house watching). Although I can move all of the horses/animals and place them in homes, so that there won't be feeding during this time, there are still all of the other obligations above. I can also place Clara in a better middle school, because the one Brooke attended was AWFUL. Of course, we have to find an apartment with 3 bedrooms and pet friendly, which seems to be a chore. And the prices! Whew!! Oh well, it's preparing me for the high costs we will experience, should we go to Italy (the Euro is 1 1/2 X of the US Dollar currently).

On another note: I had a good friend (who just returned from the mission field) ask me "Are you prepared to be homeless and illiterate?" WOW, I hadn't thought of that. I am going to be homeless AND illiterate in Italy!

How many times have I stood in a line at WalMart behind a foreigner and thought "If you are in our country, shouldn't you know our language?"! I've even gotten aggravated standing there, as the cashier politely explains something very slowly to the foreign customer. How many times have we said, "If you don't like America, then go back home (to your own country)."

"Judge not, lest ye be judged likewise" OOPS!! A lesson is about to be learned! I will be the foreigner trying to figure out how much money (converting Euros in my head) that shirt will cost, and if I can get it in blue (azzurro), and what about the sizing (who measures in centimeters anyway??). EGADS!

Please pray for us over the next 6 months: timing is the key to everything in your prayers for us. God's timing, of course. And patience....lots and lots of patience :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I had a good friend remind me this week that, "God does not call the equipped, but equips the called."

I had heard that saying before, but it really helped me this week.

Satan has been on the attack. We have been fighting emotional, spiritual, and even physical battles this month. Reference forms have been lost in the mail...TWICE, some friends with good intentions have allowed Satan to use them to hit us where it hurts, and this month two different missionaries have had horrible accidents. One was a brother to a missionary in Italy*, in a horrible car accident; and the other was a missionary** (in Taipei) himself hit by a car. Both remain in a coma and both have been bathed in prayer by me (and our family). (*Update: the brother is still in a coma - over 30 days after the accident, please continue prayers) ((**UPDATE: the missionary from Taipei is currently recovering at a private home in that country...praise God.))

In the midst of all of this heartache, I have had God poking me to keep my eyes on him.

One friend told me that when interviewed by our sending party, as part of our reference requests, she told them, "If I were smart, I would say such bad things about Michele. But I have nothing bad to say." This warmed my heart to know that we will be missed so much. Another friend gave me the opening quote, while we were in a deep discussion about the Spiritual battle being waged over our departure.

I really needed that because another friend, wanting to be helpful, told us that we weren't ready to go to the mission field. We weren't smart enough, educated enough, diligent enough, relational enough, determined enough...well I could go on and on, but you get the picture. We weren't "enough" in his eyes. Boy did that sting!

So, we did some self-evaluating. And in OUR human eyes he may have been right. But when you get to praying, you evaluate in GOD'S EYES. Is God wrong to ask us to go?? Is God making a mistake?? That sure is a "dumb" question, because GOD IS NEVER WRONG, or confused!!

"Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God...and all of these things shall be added unto you." That is exactly what we are doing....and exactly what God is and will be doing.

We are privileged to be so ignorant. BECAUSE when God shines through us, it will shine that much brighter!!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dying to self...

I'm not normally a procrastinator. When I start things, I like to get it done quick. There are exceptions, Tom can tell you some, but for the most part, I want it done now.

However, this month has been my procrastination month. We have an entire garage full of totes. Totes of toys, clothes, crafts, Christmas decorations, and some that I don't even know what is in them, line the entire floor - stacked to the ceiling of our garage. They all need to be sorted and disposed of. Not thrown away, just given away, or packed for storage. After WEEKS of reving myself up, I've went through two lonely totes. And only threw 5 shirts into the "get rid of" box.

I'm not a fashion diva. None of my clothes are name brand, with the exception of those that were given to me by friends. BUT, I have dozens of T-shirts that I can't seem to part with. Each shirt was a "freebie", but priceless to me.

I have half a dozen "Flying Pig Marathon" shirts from prior choir trips. Dozens of Middle School Camp shirts. I have a "I'm a Prayer Walker" shirt. Each one tells a story. Each one holds a memory of some big GOD ADVENTURE! I just can't make myself go through and dispose of them.

And that is just the two lonely totes...What will I find in the other dozens of totes? School papers? First Christmas toys for the girls? A wedding memento from 18 years ago?

But Jesus is calling us to another God Adventure! One in which we have to put off our old self. One in which we have to die to our longing to keep all of this STUFF. One in which we will carry with us in three 40 pound suitcases, and head across the ocean.

Hmmmm, remind you of the Israelites?? It does me!

We are FREE. We once were lost, slaves, hopeless, and dead. But now we are alive again in Christ.

Please pray for our family over the next several months as we die a bit each day, getting rid of all of our mementos. We are planning on keeping NOTHING (maybe just a tote or two). We need to shed this extra weight, so we can have a light spring in our step and prepare to cross that sea to our new homeland...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

God is...

A song keeps ringing through my head this week, and it goes something like this: "God is... the strength of my heart, and my portion forever."

This week has been a busy one as far as our "official" application process with our sender. Email addresses and/or phone numbers haven't worked, and we've had to track down Tom's old supervisor. The devil is trying, unsuccessfully, to get us distracted.

As most know, Tom was laid off in February (which, of course, was part of God's plan), along with all but a handful of workers. He had no contact with any of his supervisors, his employer, etc. His former company is going bankrupt financially, while they've been bankrupt spiritually for a LONG time.

Our missionary sending "company" needed a reference from either a former supervisor, or a teacher. Well, he doesn't start school for another week, so teacher would be out. So, he tried to get ahold of his supervisor. Calls to the company went un-returned. Calls to the sup.s house were unsuccessful, as all of the numbers had been disconnected. So, we were stuck not knowing what to do next.

BUT GOD IS IN CONTROL ALWAYS, and my portion forever.

Tom went to pick Brooke up from school. Who was in the parking lot? Tom's supervisor, whom he had not seen since his last day at work, over 6 months ago!! So, after a nice conversation, we now have all of the information, and he is excited to give Tom his reference.

So, why in the world were we stressing, even just a little bit?? Why in the world are WE trying to get all of this fixed ourselves? Because, the key is in the first part of the question! We are still trying to live IN THE WORLD, not in God!! Even as far as we've come in our faith, WE are still trying...and not relying on GOD'S DOING!! How many times do we need to get this straight? 7X? or 7 X 7X?? or even 777X777X???

We keep running through the list of things to do, before we leave. I know that it is a while in the future still, but I have a LOT of stuff to get done. House to sell, horses to find homes, 30 years of STUFF to go through, and this is just the physical stuff. We still have a ton of legal work to do (and spiritual). We have an entire garage full of STUFF to find a place for. Most will go to the Goodwill, but I still have to go through it. We even have some boxes that we've never even unpacked from when we first moved here, over 10 years ago. Goes to show you how important it all

I'm just going to keep singing, and keep praying, and keep on keeping on...because "God IS"!

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's official!

You know, when we first said "hoping to depart in about 2 years", we thought that was a long time in the future. After all, other than some daydreaming, most of us don't plan what we will be actually doing in two years. Then before you know it, BAM, we are now at a 6 month anniversary of God's calling to our family!!

This week we are filling out our official application for our sending party, having filled out a similar one for our home church two weeks ago.

When you read statements like "I understand that (sender) has a policy that they will NOT pay ransom for any person who may be kidnapped or held hostage while serving with them", it really wakes you up. This IS real. WOW, we are REALLY going to do this.

It's so wonderful, and scary, and thrilling, and sad, all on one awesome package. God is in control!

But you know what?? As I re-read that last quote, I realized that although our earthly sender won't pay a ransom for me, our Heavenly Sender already has!!

He gave all He had for me!! Now, He's asking that I do the same for Him. How can I refuse that??! I love my God. He is awesome! He is my true LOVE! He is my life!

I can't wait to share that!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Horses & Abraham

So, the more people I tell what we are planning on doing in two years, the more blank stares I get...especially from other Christians.

God has given us so much!! Over 20 acres of land, 10 horses (11 now), a dozen other various animals, health, kids, a good marriage...just to name a very few.

All that He is wanting, now, is us to give it all up for him! We will, gladly and sadly.

I can't help but be grateful that He isn't asking me to give up one of my children!!

It's what He asked of Abraham, and Abraham did it...gladly and sadly.

I had just told God this earlier last year. "Thank You for all that You've given me! I WILL give it all up if You ask me to..." And He did. And I am.

And most people think I'm crazy (thus the blank stares), but you know, God isn't asking me to give up EVERYTHING, He's just making sure that I will give up anything that would divide my attention from HIM.

I love my horses! I love my farm! I love my country (most of the time)! But I love MY GOD more!!!!

He isn't asking me to give up my kids (although I would if I HAD to). He's asking me to put Him first. He's asking me to bring HIS people to Him, because they can't hear/see Him anymore. I CAN hear/see Him, and I need to share that blessing with others.

He is testing me to make sure that I have an open/willing heart, like Abraham. There won't be a last minute sacrificial lamb, because HE has already come. But I go to the mountain, singing and rejoicing, although a tear in my eye. MY GOD is first and foremost in my life, and I NEED to share Him with others!

I am NOT a saint. I am not a prophet/priest. I am, however, willing...and that is all He needs!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dead Flowers

This week has been hard so far, and it's only Monday. Today I buried a good friend, and helped a different friend mourn another death.

My friend was in his late 50s (or so), and lost a hard battle with cancer. He knew the end was coming and he went peacfully to his new home in Heaven.

My other friend's loss was much harder, as she was a teen, full of life and died in a sudden car accident.

Both were believers...

This got me thinking about flowers they go hand in hand with death. Coffins covered with flowers, stairs/chairs/tables all strewn with roses/carnations/lillies.

I have a ton of flowers that my girls got me for Mother's Day, this year. I planted them all with tender loving care in various pots all over my front porch. I've faithfully watered, weeded, and fertilized them all the same. But, you know, some of them just aren't doing so well. Some are flourishing. Brilliant colors, fragrant smells greet you at my front door. In the same exact pot are some wilted and even dead flowers. I'm going to pick them out and toss them in the trash...What a waste.

People are so much like flowers...

It is so hard to pour so much time/energy/water into them, to only have them wilt and waste away.

But that is life, and my job is to just keep watering. God will pull the spiritually dead ones out someday...I hope it's not someone I know...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Watering Flowers

OK, so I was reading a blog posted by a friend who just arrived in Italy this past month, and I was hit with a strong sad but good feeling, and God revealed His purpose to me.

I have been thinking/praying: "God I don't know HOW to be a missionary. I wasn't born into a missionary family, and although I know how to 'evangelize', I don't know how to do it in a foreign field."

Well, then I read the blog, and saw my friends photos of her new apartment with flowers along her balcony, and God spoke to me.

I am to go and water flowers in Italy. I am to go an nurture, weed, feed, and give TLC to God's people (flowers). That's all. When the time comes, He will pluck them up, and put them in His vase on display in His home.

When I got that revelation, then it all just seems so simple. I can do that!!!!

I can give up all that He has blessed me with here, and go and do the same in another country! I CAN nurture/water/weed. I don't need to scream that Christ is coming on every street corner (although I will if I have to), I just need to water.

It doesn't matter if the flowers are daisies or dandelions, just give each some of the water God has provided, and they will flourish, each according to HIS will.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Moving Forward...

So we have now met with our "future sender", Team Expansion. Although I believe the meeting went great, we won't have official word for two weeks, then we move forward with formal applications, and a "missionary bootcamp" in October or January.

After that, we are hoping to be official foreign missionaries. Our field will, hoping again, be in Italy.

We are so excited!! I would never had thought that someday a foreign city, esp. Rome, might be my home...NEVER! But, what a God we serve!!

If he can take a Kentucky horse trainer, and turn them into a Roman, then he can do anything ha/ha!

I'll blog more later, when we find something new out...