Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. 

As our family gathers for Thanksgiving today there are many things I am thankful for. 

I am thankful for the many ways we have experienced God's love, mercy and grace over this last year.   There have been many days this year where I have woken up before the sun comes up.  I love seeing the night sky turn into morning and watching light fill the sky.  Each day His supply of love, mercy and grace have been new in our lives.  10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman has been a theme song for us.  There's a verse that goes, "When the sun comes up, there's a new day dawning, It's time to sing your song again, whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes.  There was a morning where I took this picture of the sunrise and told Susie I know we might face some hard evenings along this journey, but I'm excited and thankful for every sunrise that we can face together as well. 

I am thankful for health.  Last year as we celebrated Thanksgiving, Susie had just finished a brief stay in the hospital after her first round of chemo.  It was very scary.  I knew she had at least 5 more rounds to go and was unsure as to how it would affect her mind and her body.  I am thankful that God gave her energy, strength and grace to face each round.  I am thankful that she completed her chemo in April.  I am thankful that since January of this year, each of the 5 MRI's she has had, have been stable - no new tumor growth! 

I am thankful for God's ability to restore.  There is a song that reminds me of this, it is called Beautiful Things by Gungor.  Susie is a beautiful thing God has made.  He has been restoring her energy each and every day since she finished chemo.  This Fall has been wonderful to see, as she has been able to re-engage fully to being mom to four young kids.  As a dad and husband, I cannot tell you the joy in my heart as I watch her with the kids.  It brings a smile to my soul and makes me very thankful for God's ability to restore. 

If you couldn't tell already I am very thankful for my wife.  I am thankful that I can spend another Thanksgiving with her.  I am thankful for who she is, a woman of filled with grace, love, beauty, humor and wisdom (especially when she has google at her fingertips)!  She has been and continues to be God's greatest tangible expression of love to me.  I am thankful for how she has handled all of this.  She tackles each day with a determination to make the most of what is in front of her, regardless of the circumstances and regardless of how she feels.  She is awesome and I am so thankful that she is my bride.

I am thankful for our kids.  Our kids have been resilient, gracious, strong and tender.  I told them after our Thanksgiving meal last year that when they got older, daddy would tell them how hard this past year had been.  With tears in my eyes I told them they have been such source of strength for daddy.  This year, I could tell them the same thing.  They have been a rock for me and for Susie each and every day.

I am thankful for the opportunity to learn.  I have done more reading this year than any other year in my life, thanks to the doctoral program I am in.  I have learned more about Missions and Development than I even knew was out there.  I am so thankful for my cohort and all that we are learning together.  I look forward to the continued learning and however God might use what we are learning in our future to help bring affect change into our world. 
"In order to work on these serious problems, aspiring ambassadors of global reconciliation need to go to school, gain expertise in the discipline, develop skills in a specialized field, build cross-cultural capabilities, and practice as interns under the tutelage of experienced professionals."

Hoksbergen, Roland (2012-06-01). Serving God Globally: Finding Your Place in International Development (p. . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
There are many more things I am thankful for, like the fact that so many of you continue to remain engaged with us and continue to help us.  I could go on and on about that, but the kids have woken up and I need to wrap this up.   My prayer and my hope is that in the midst of what you have faced this year, regardless of what your evenings have brought you, that you would be reminded of God's love for you as you enjoy this day of Thanksgiving.  May your year be filled with reasons to be thankful. 

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A praise and a commercial

I had an MRI last week and got the official word from my doctor today that things look stable and unchanged, which in the brain cancer world is great news! We are thankful to God for a good report. And we are thankful for medical people who have been faithful to communicate with each other and with us across networks and via email.

And now, the commercial.

We are at pre-field cross-cultural training at a place called CIT. It hasn't yet been a week, but we love it, are learning a ton, and are already confident that this experience is worth it in every way.

So. You might know or come across missionaries who are raising support and they will tell you that they need to go to training, sometimes for around two years. Often, missionaries in this situation have a hard time raising support because the American church tends to value expediency and such. My commercial is this training is important, it will be a key factor in how long they make it in the field, and if you meet any of these people, please support their effort to get adequately trained for the mission God has called them to.

And, to our supporters who have made it possible for our whole family to be here, thank you so much. More of an update later, but I'm in class and should be paying attention!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Cloud gets bigger.

The cloud of witnesses.

On our "get involved" page, we listed a few people to pray for, alongside of whom we've been walking this path of brain cancer. Since we last updated that page, two of those prized saints have been called home to Jesus. Phoebe Fair was just a little girl, younger than Charlie, older than Annie. She was loved and treasured by her Jesus-serving family, and by strangers like us who prayed for her and reached for our phones each morning to check for news of her health.

Bob Guge, a dear family friend, passed away just this week. He will be remembered on this earth for making the world more beautiful with his many children and grandchildren (and grandchildren still to be born) and with his lovely, award-winning art.

I knew Phoebe only through her parents' words and Bob through the eyes of my childhood, but I share with each of them things that are precious and defining - a specific brand of sickness, and a savior who promised to transform our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things (cancer, death, pain, suffering, loss) to himself.

Bob and Phoebe, what's that like?

Fairs and Guges, we persist with prayers for your comfort and peace.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I heart Coach Ben

My husband is gifted and called. It took me years to realize that, a little longer to admit it out loud, but the more I explored in my own mind how God had made Ben, and what He had made Him for, the more deeply I grew to love him. (And Him).
When Ben decided to leave his global leadership role to be with me and the kids more consistently, I was heartbroken. Other wives nodded in sympathy. Their eyes said, "yes, husbands are so annoying when they're home all the time." But that so isn't it. I love having Ben home, working or otherwise. I was sad because I had grown attached to seeing him shine in the spot given to him. (There's more to it than that, but it definitely wasn't sadness at him being home)
In the last couple of years, I have remained steadfast in my belief that while I am so honored and thrilled that Ben gives his family the bulk of his time and energy, he was made for more. Not for something more important, but something in addition.
We have pressed on to what we believe that is - leadership, learning and service in the global sphere; for the time being, Brasil.
Only one thing has caused me to question that: seeing Ben as a youth soccer coach. When I watch him patiently, firmly, consistently encouraging, cajoling, and herding these little squirts who are way too young for anything organized, I feel so proud.
When a kid is scared, Ben will pick him up and carry him around the field. When a little girl doesn't believe she can score like the boys, Ben will teach her she can. When a little boy (say our little boy) decides examining grass is more interesting than defense, Ben will holler until said little boy drops the grass and lifts up his head. When a ref makes bad calls, Ben will tease him. When a ref irresponsibly refuses to blow his whistle and kids are getting hurt, Ben will not let it go.
I love it. Yesterday was our boys' last games, and everyone got medals. More importantly, they each got a man to get on his knees, look them in the eyes and tell them why they are great.

That being said, I am so happy soccer is over. Ohio novembers are cold!