Friday, March 2, 2018

We love a good story...

This fundraising journey has included a lot of food and friends. I find that there is nothing like talking about our hearts and future over a shared meal. Not that I don't like going out to eat, but there is just something relaxing about having people in our home. There is no rush and feeling like I'm cheating a waitress out of another table. We don't have to wrangle kids or try to get them to be quiet for the other patrons. Nope. It's just us and you sitting down for some good food and good conversation in my little house. 

Part of good conversation to me always includes story. Yesterday I got to retell one of my all-time favorite stories from my time in Ecuador. It's been a good decade since it happened, so I figured it was time to retell this story on the blog too. 

But just know, Steven and I are full of stories... from the past, the present and what we are hoping to do in the future. We'd love to have you over to hear more of your stories or share with you a few of ours! 
In the meantime, hope you enjoy a good laugh on me...

I spent 2 years as a missionary in Ecuador working at a coffee shop outreach to High School and University students. I was learned spanish while I was there so as you can imagine there were lots of opportunities for things to get lost in translation. I learned the hard way that you don’t just answer “” when you don’t understand the question.

I had plans to hang out with my friend. We were going to go swimming in the afternoon, but she called me to tell me she had to cancel the swimming, but she wanted me to accompany her to ____________ (a bunch of words I didn’t know). I asked her to repeat it, but to be honest, if you don’t know a word, it doesn’t matter how SLOW someone says something or how many TIMES they say it, you’re just not going to get it. So, I just say “” and asked her when she was going to come by my house.

When she got to my house, it was raining like mad so I thought we might not go and just postpone it to another day, but she was insistent on going. She was also a bit dressed up which I found rather strange due to the fact that she’s never dressed up. I asked her if I should change and she said I was fine. So I grabbed my chaccos, my rain jacket and rolled up my jeans a bit because it was pouring. When the taxi driver asked her where we were going, she said a church. I was a little taken aback because she’s not the church going type. And I said, "I didn't know you went to church." And she said, "I don't. Only when I go to (a bunch of words I didn't know)." We arrived at the church and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was dressed up. As I looked at the bulletin that we received when we walked in, I realized that everyone was wearing black…

I quickly realized that we weren’t just in ANY mass. We were at a funeral. Yep, those words I didn't know... they meant “funeral”… actually burial which was a word I learned very quickly after that moment. 

Once the funeral finished, I breathed a sigh of relief and asked if we were leaving and she said yes, we were off to the cemetery. After about fifteen minute, we arrived at the cemetery where they attempted to put the casket into the ground. In the States, you lower the casket it… in Ecuador they put it in at an angle.  So now you have a bunch of women yelling at a bunch of men as to HOW to best put this casket in the ground. All I could think was: sweet Jesus if this man falls out of the casket, I don’t know what I’m going to do. 

Thankfully they got him in place and then they put all the flowers that were at the funeral all over his gravesite. My friend had a flower in her hand, but she decided last minute she didn’t want to step up and put in on his grave, so she gave it to me. So here I am, a gringa wearing sandals and a rain jacket holding a funeral flower.

Needless to say, God does not do things like this to me for nothing because on the way home my friend began to disclose to me her family and their “religious” ties. The obvious question was, “What are you?” And she said she didn’t know… she was nothing. She began to ask me about me, “Are you religious?” And I got the joy of sharing with her that I didn’t like religion. That what I have is a relationship with God because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. 

As we walked back toward town she asked me if I wanted to get some lunch and I said, "Where?" To which she responded: ca efe ce. And I thought, well, I guess if I’ve been saying yes to all these other words I don’t know, it can’t get any worse. 

As we turned the corner I breathed a sign of relief as we walked up to KFC.

A few days later I felt like the Lord was asking me an open ended question… would you do anything for me? I think that He will be the only person I answer “” to even if I don’t know what he’s really asking.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Wrestling with Dad

The other morning, Steven and Andrew were wrestling in bed. Andrew decided he had enough and wanted to go eat breakfast, but Steven had him in a tight bear hug. They play a game "Lockdown" where the other has to guess the password to get out of said situation. This is how the conversation played out:

Steven: Lockdown password.
Andrew: Let me go!
Steven: Lockdown password is "I love honey nut cheerios"
A: No. (kicking and squirming)
S: Just say it.
A: No. (more kicking and squirming)

And this went on for another 4 rounds while Andrew tried to fanagle out of Steven's grasp to no avail until Andrew finally gave in and said the lockdown password.

As I watched it play out, I had to smile and ask the Lord, 'Do I do that?' Do I fight with you because I want my way? Do I somehow think I am stronger than you or can outlast you? Yes, indeed I do.

Paul David Tripp asked a very pointed question in his book "New Morning Mercies" that cut me to the core this morning: Will you give way to the frustration that you are not getting your way or celebrate the grace that has included you in the most wonderful plan that was ever conceived?

In this journey of raising funds, prayer partners and preparing to leave, I have had a plan and I get annoyed with things, like sickness impede my ability to carry out my plan. I get frustrated when I don't get my way. God is more about the journey than the destination. He wants to teach me through this and I just want to get it done.

Jesus then followed up this little lesson for me with Psalm 73:28 "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works."

May that be my ultimate desire, not what I want but the nearness of the Lord.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Not my plan...

If you’ve followed my blog at all in the past you know that I’m big into people’s stories. I am always amazed at how God uses our story to tell His ultimate story. He is at work, He has been at work and He will be at work long after my story is over, but I’m excited as we enter a new chapter that He is writing in our story for His glory and our good.

Ever since we got back from Ecuador, our hearts have been drawn to get back on the mission field full time. After Steven graduated from seminary in 2012, we tried. Oh how we tried. But the Lord closed doors and made us wait. I’m not sure about you, but patience is not a virtue that I have very much of. I drive fast, hate waiting in lines and multitask whenever possible. So asking me to wait was right there next to torture. But waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing. In the last 5 years, we have been able to watch friends come to know the Lord, minister to neighbors, watch 2 children grow and grow in our relationship with the Lord and each other. It may not have been what we expected to happen, but it has been worth it. 

About a year or so ago, we met up with a friend, Bob Hay who we met on our missionary journey with SIM. Since we came home from Ecuador, Bob has kept up with us, sent us our favorite coffee (Casi Cielo YUM!) and came to stay with us when he was in town. In our conversations with him about missions, we said that we would go anywhere and do anything. Bob responded with: “No you won’t. You can’t be a doctor in Timbuktu because you’re not qualified to do so. You need to see what the Lord has gifted, skilled and called you to do and then go do that.” Bob and his wife Amy asked us if we would like to do Life Focus with them - it’s something they do with long term missionaries to help them figure out how God has uniquely gifted them for missions. 

Bob and Amy were so faithful and patient with us as we took Meyer-Briggs, DIRT, and a whole lot of other tests to help us know ourselves better. We then went about writing mission statements, vision statements and describing ourselves in one word. (its tougher than you think!). 

In doing these things there emerged a tug from the Lord - to work in the SIM home office helping missionaries get on the field. Hmm… never saw that coming.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


Driving down Northwest Highway yesterday, Andrew and I saw a homeless man cloaked in a white bed sheet panhandling. I had packed Andrew an apple and some pretzels as a snack for the way home, so I rolled down my window and asked the gentleman if he would like an apple. His contagious smile and sparkling eyes caught me off guard. He said yes and thank you. I quickly asked his name, told him ours and told him we would be praying for him. As we drove away, Andrew says to me, “But mom, I’m hungry.” This coming from my 3-year-old who never stops eating. He had just eaten breakfast, was eating a snack in the car and would get yet another snack at Bible study... but he was hungry. We talked about sacrifice and how that apple was Mr. Chris’ breakfast and how God has blessed us to be a blessing.

It made me begin to think of our human concept of sacrifice. When we give to charity, we don’t dig too deep to actually feel it. We pat ourselves on the back when we give a few extra dollars to the missionary, above and beyond our tithe. This, to us is sacrifice - to give a little out of our overflowing abundance.

What was Jesus’ view of sacrifice? “Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!” Ephesians 2:6-8

He sacrificed his throne to save you - to save me! And what does he call us to do? “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationship with one another, have the same mindset of Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:3-5

This feels like a gut punch to my soul. I want to value others interests before my own. I want to give when it hurts (money and time!), not only when it’s convenient. When Jesus asks me to give up my apple, I want to do it willingly and not be so focused on my own interests. But all too often I sacrifice just enough to look good or make myself feel better.

I am reminded of Andrew’s favorite Bible story: Feeding the 5,000. His Bible story book points out that the boy didn’t keep part of his lunch for himself, he gave the whole thing. That little boy offered up all he had to Jesus without expecting anything in return. It wasn’t about how much he had, it was about his heart being ready to give it all for Jesus to use. Oh, that I would have that same spirit of giving this Christmas season.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Looking back...

Crazy adventures in Ecuador, reverse culture shock, traveling and marrying the love of my life... that's what I've been reminiscing over the last 30 minutes. I haven't looked at my Over a Cup of Coffee blog in YEARS, but was reminded when a new missionary moving to Loja was looking at it.

From 2008 to 2009 my days were filled with stories... stories of how the Lord moved, how people's lives were change, and about all my cultural and language mishaps. It's so neat to look back and see how the Lord used me but even more how the Lord changed me during that time.

Now that my days are mostly filled with diapers, dishes and play dates, I don't have the same wild adventure stories, but I do still get to see the Lord move. I get to see Jesus forming and shaping my son as he grows and learns (He said "Jesus" the other day - I screamed in excitement and scared him so much that now he doesn't want to say it anymore!) I still get to come in contact with people who desperately need Jesus; it just may be a mama instead of a crazy college kid. And I still get the opportunity to speak words of truth to believers who need encouragement.

As my time in Ecuador came to a close, I remember thinking 'If the last two years have been "mission work" I can do that anywhere. It's just taking the time to make friends and love people toward the Gospel of Jesus Christ." I pray that my life is JUST that - whether in Ecuador, Dallas or Timbuktu may every day be spent sharing the love of Jesus with those who need to know him, whether that be to my son, my neighbor or a stranger.

It was fun reading through past stories of bus ridessalsa dancing, and my absolute FAVORITE STORY that still makes me laugh when I think about it. Do I miss those days living in beautiful Loja? You better believe it. My view is a little different these days, and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world! I'm doing the same thing today as I did 7 years ago, sharing the love of Jesus with whoever he puts in my path.

* All the links are to the stories on my old blog that I was reading through today. Feel free to read them and reminisce with me if you like!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Whistle

When you heard the whistle, you moved. It didn't matter if you were three blocks away or two doors down, when my mom whistled we all knew it was time to go home. I remember being at the park, hearing the whistle and telling my friend I had to go. She said, "Why don't you just stay a little longer and tell her you didn't hear it?" My response: "Because she'll know I was lying... we can always hear the whistle."

Thinking about that makes me chuckle a little now that I have my own little guy. I find myself telling him often: "Listen and obey." Even at 16 months, I see the wheels in his little head turning - 'To obey or to do what I want...' No one had to teach him to be disobedient or selfish, but I do need to teach him how to be obedient. Just like my mom had to teach me to come home when I heard the whistle.

This is what the Lord has been teaching me lately... to listen and obey. So often when I hear his gentle voice say, Go I wait around pretending like I didn't hear. When I feel a nudge from the Spirit to pray over someone, to speak the truth of the Gospel or give an encouraging word, I hesitate. Like my son Andrew, I want to do what I want. I don't want to be called out of my comfort zone to what could be an awkward situation. I don't want to risk rejection or humiliation. I want to cuddle up with familiarity and safety.

But we have not been called to safety and comfort (though I find myself longing for it daily). As believers in Christ, he has called us to adventure, danger and a fight for people's souls.

I want to be as in tune to the Spirit of God as I was to my mom's whistle. When I hear it, it means it's time to move.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Didn't realize it could get this messy...

When you look down at your hand, see something yellow and think to yourself, 'I think that's poop', you're a mom. I've wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. Baby was my first word, I mothered my dolly, and bossed around my sister. I honestly thought I knew what I was getting into. I had no idea.
Andrew James was born on September 20 and since that day my life has been flipped on its head. I've cried more and felt more inadequate than I've ever in my life. At the same time, I never thought I'd be so overjoyed at a smile or several hours of sleep in a row. 
I've also never felt so close to the Lord as I have during the past 2 months. As he has cried, I've cried out to the Lord for help, answers, healing... and honestly most days I felt like my prayers were hitting the ceiling. It just didn't seem fair that so many people I know have these perfect little ones who sleep and don't have ear-piercing wails while I end up with the kid who cries more than sleeps. 
Last week when he got sick, I was sucking boogers, giving medicine and doing everything I could think of to help my small one. But all he saw was how much he hated getting his nose unplugged, how nasty the medicine was and how mean his mom was. My heart was broken for my child. I wanted to take all his hurt, sickness and pain on myself. I just kept whispering in his ear, "Mama loves you." 
It was during one of his wailings that the Lord spoke so clearly to me about my own pain over the last several months. My prayer life has increased 100 fold. When he is crying and we are making our laps around the living room, I prayed for him, our family, our friends and those who don't know the Lord. When he's up at 2am, I prayed for my friends who wish they had little ones to hold and comfort at 2am. When I wanted to give him back, I cried out to the Lord and he answered me; not with the healing that I so desperately wanted, but instead with the closeness I so desperately needed. As I wailed, he held me close and said, "Daddy loves you."