June 29, 2012

it.is.well.

Friends,

After spending much time in prayer, and seeking counsel from our pastors and other friends and family, we wanted to let you know that we have resigned our position as missionary candidates to Lyon, France.  We have been trying to live somewhere between the two phrases that our Pastor speaks so frequently:  “Where God calls, He provides”, and “Never doubt in the dark what He told you in the light”.  After walking this journey the best that we knew how, it seemed increasingly clear that God chose to not provide adequate partners to enable us to go to France.  By the numbers, we were only at 16% even after 16 months of seeking partners in this ministry to the people of Lyon.  And so the decision was made to live within the reality of the situation.

For a while we had become concerned that God had not been blessing the effort to raise a team of prayer and financial partners for our upcoming ministry in Lyon.  We prayed like never before, tried each suggested method, having been to ‘boot camps’ on how to build partners, met people one-on-one--sometimes in our home and other times in their home, we studied others’ successes, blogged, Facebook’ed, sent consistent newsletters, prayer updates, presented the ministry to churches, District Conferences, Sunday Schools, sent broad-sweeping letters of appeal, hinted, shouted, sang, danced, made the most of every impromptu meeting, and finally wrote hand-written cards with a pretty specific ‘ask’.  No matter what we tried, there were very limited results.  We found that most of the support that we did have came independent of any efforts that we have done, and more from people just responding on their own.

Last month, we asked for counsel on some really hard questions:  How long do we go before it’s time to assume that God is not blessing the efforts, and as such, this must not be the direction that we’re supposed to be going?  How long is too long?  Is it the total package amount of support needed that is a hindrance to people joining the team?  Is it our previous financial troubles after the bakery "fiasco"?  Is it some other previous ministry issue?  Is it people’s perception that France is only a dream vacation spot?    How does quitting in this situation honor God?  Are there other questions that we should be asking?

We have been told that perhaps we are in the ‘perfect storm’ of fundraising, and considering the human side, we've thought that maybe it is about the economics of the well-known financial woes of Elkhart County, raising funds for Europe in general rather than some other perceived ‘needier’ country, the particularly high support schedule, and possible perception that our main focus of worship ministry not being ‘missionary’ enough.  Or maybe not.  I'm not sure we'll really ever know.  

Our hearts are still with the people of Lyon, Lyon City Team, and the International Christian Community of Lyon (ICCL) and we still really love the ReachGlobal organization, and all the amazing people that are a part of it, but it just appears that God has other plans for us.  I think we just needed a lot more wonderfully faithful people to sacrificially give and pray.  We know that the same obedience to the radical call to uproot our family and move to Lyon must also be willing to submit to a radical change of those plans based on His leading and provision.

We are, as you can imagine, heart-broken.  But now, we’re mostly driving around the slow-moving “why”, and have decided to cruise at “Trust His Heart” as Chris and I used to sing so often.  It’s interesting that we keep coming back to that theme in our lives and ministry.

Our kids have been amazing during this entire journey to Lyon, and as we've struggled to discern where He is currently leading.  I am in awe each day of their own vibrant, deep faith and passion for Jesus.  They are an inspiration to us as parents.  They have endured much during this time, and have proven to be amazingly resilient.  So proud.

We have had some wonderful feedback so far from the few that have known what has been going on lately: 

  • “there is a reason, probably known only to God, and we must trust Him and even thank Him”
  • “I have lived long enough to be able to look back and see how some of my greatest disappointments were not that, but rather His Appointments”
  • “it is less the place and more the posture that counts as we follow him as disciples”
  • “while we don’t understand why this has happened, you have to live in the reality of your situation”
  • “I can trust the Hand that presses me, and finding (eventually) some comfort in knowing that He has purpose and meaning for me under His weight.
  • "I pray for strong faith for you. Faith--obviously--is the enemy's main target, because it is what gets us through."
  • "Your obedience to uproot your family & leave a life you love shows a devotion to God, reminding me of Abraham & his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. God wanted to know if he was willing, & he was."
  • "I always knew during our support raising that even if we never hit the field, God was still using the time to refine us and teach us important things that would change us forever no matter the outcome."
  • "He knows how to guide and lead us though his ways can be impenetrable to our finite minds.  It is never easy to come to terms with a decision to change course when convictions for a certain direction have been so strong.  I have never doubted that conviction in your regard and still have the certainty that the Lord has been calling you to serve him in a special way." 

Those thoughts, my friends, could preach!  And they do...to us, as they help soothe the blow, and help us focus on the important things and not on ourselves.

So, we say thank you for your support of us as a family, and for following along on the journey.  You have been a blessing to us!

Can we challenge you to consider partnering with someone heading to the mission field, near or far?  These are tough times to raise support, and there are good people out there struggling to bring in the needed funds to   serve Him as they've been called.  How About Matt and Kimberly (London)?  How about Tom and Tanya (Czech Republic) ?  How about Greg and Wende (Lyon, France)?  How about Anastasia (Lyon, France)?  How about Todd and Nicole (Kenya, Africa)?  How about Mitch and Sarah (Chiang Mai, Thailand)?  How about Scott and Elaine (Rome, Italy)?  These (and so many others like them) are wonderful people who need your help.

We leave you with a clip of "It is Well" that Morgan sent to us the other night.  (Remember what I said about having amazing kids?)  She's right, It is well.  We are at peace.  

video

May 25, 2012

Thankful...

As I sat at home alone last night... in the quiet... no TV, no Rhapsody, no noise but the occasional barking of our little white fluff balls when they heard something of interest and would run to the front window.  You see, Easton was at a sleepover... Steve, Bailey & Spencer were travelling toward Cedar Point way with the NW choir gang... Morgan was visiting a few more friends and spending the night with another one... so there I was, enjoying a night to myself.

As I went to bed and spent quite some time talking with God, I had to confess that too often my prayers are filled with requests... over and over and over.  I was convicted that the things that weight my mind and heart down each day come spilling out to Him, yet the praises and joys of all He's done and is doing seem to be blocked by my seemingly selfish wants and needs and desires.  So I decided to take some time to really think about all that He has done and is doing in my life and our family's lives and thought I'd share them with you... He deserves so much more praise than I give Him!

My "Thankful for..." list:

...the sunshine!  Beautiful days have been quite frequent here in Indiana.

...good health!  It's so easy to take this for granted, but after 7 years of chronic health issues, I want to thank Him again for healing me and giving me good health!

...an amazingly generous, caring, giving husband!  Steve is the "giver" of all givers.  He is always the first to serve and so often we take him for granted.  Thanks, Steve!

...four beautiful kids who love Jesus!  They are all growing up so much and as I was chatting with a friend at work today I had to remind myself of how fortunate we have been that all four of our kids have chosen to love and follow Jesus... and have been good kids in so many ways!

...unexpected gifts from supporters and a church this month in our ReachGlobal account!  God continues to surprise us with bringing people into our ministry partner team by His own doing and for His glory!

...a clean house!  We had another house showing last night so we had the great opportunity to clean our house again to "visiting" standards.  Oh, how I love walking into a clean house... and oh, how infrequent that is with a busy family these days.

...a great discounted flight deal from Atlanta to Chicago Midway!  We heard from a friend that he found a great flight deal from Atlanta to here so we decided to check it out to surprise Morgan... and, God provided an awesome deal so we flew Morgan home on Tuesday for one week.  Such great timing for her to visit with friends who just returned home from college, visit friends and family who are graduating from high school this year, and catch up with family.  She's keeping a full schedule, which is quite nice for her since she spends most of her time in Atlanta alone.

...a job for Morgan - beginning the first week of June!  After living in Atlanta since mid-February, Morgan has finally found a nanny job.  She is still searching for another part-time job to fill in the gaps, but is so thankful that God provided a job JUST when she needed the money.  God has been SO GOOD to provide for all her needs and teach her so much during these past few months.

...the Wa-Nee School System!  It seems nearly impossible that we've lived in Indiana now almost 15 years and have watched all of our kids file through Wakarusa Elementary and NorthWood Middle Schools now.  Easton is now a freshman, Spencer is a junior and Bailey is now a senior at NorthWood High School.  We have so enjoyed the teachers and administration that have loved our kids, taught them, cared for them, supported them, disciplined them, and even prayed for them!  Thanks!!!  Here is a picture of Easton as he headed to 8th grade awards night this past Tuesday -


...traveling safety!  We have traveled back and forth to Iowa, Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky and Illinois in the past three months in a van with over 250,000 miles and many "issues".  God has graciously protected us and kept our van going time and time again, and we are so grateful!

...an awesome church - Nappanee Missionary Church!  We can always count on God speaking to us through Dave's messages and are always lifted up and encouraged in worship through the Connection Band.  We are also SO grateful for the many staff and volunteers who have cared for, loved and supported our kids in the middle school and high school programs.

...family!  God continues to bless us with two awesome families - the Kirkdorffer clan here in Indiana and the Dahlgren clan in California.  They encourage us, love us and are there for us.  And, Grandma Kirk is an awesome cook!  :)

...MapleTronics Computers!  Wes & Janelle and the MTC family continues to be an encouragement and support through these many months of unknowns and transitions and we are so grateful for everything.

...our home!  Many days I wonder why someone hasn't snatched it up yet, but all in all I am so thankful that God provided us the privilege of raising our kids here.  What a blessing that we didn't and don't deserve.

...partners in ministry!  We are blown away by those who have chosen to do ministry with us in Lyon!  You humble us, encourage us, and give us strength through this process.  Thank YOU!

...God's love, grace, forgiveness, and provision!  Why He would care about such a little speck on this earth is so beyond me, but He does!  Simply amazing!!!  Beyond loving me and dying for me, He also cares about my hurts, fears, frustrations, ignorance, and selfish requests... He listens!  He loves!  He answers!  Wow!!!

I realize there are so many more things to list, but since I can't just list them without my lengthy explanations, I think I'll pick up again some other day with more things I'm thankful for!


And do you see how thankful we must be?
Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God.
~Hebrews 12:28


Oh, I have two more...

...freedom!  Have an awesome Memorial Day weekend - remembering those who gave their lives for our freedom!

...thanks for reading to the end! :)

April 27, 2012

Take the 1% Step Challenge


If you're anything like our family, there's a chance you've enjoyed some amazing mountaintop experiences and then slid a long distance down that mountain to hit some deep valleys.  These highs and lows may have been experienced physically, emotionally or spiritually.  We all walk unique paths in which God is continually guiding, teaching, loving and caring for us.

Through the past "almost" 21 years, we've had our fair share of deep valleys.  We've shared some of them in previous posts - Answering the "Why?" :: Part 1 and God is Still a Healing God.  Beyond the struggles with our health, we have also walked through financial valleys... and ultimately spiritual valleys.  It became easier to throw up our hands and give up than it was to keep going and keep growing.

When there was more expenses than income, we allowed our fears to take over and held on to what little we had rather than give it for God's use and glory.  We knew that God taught that He would pour out blessings to those who give.  It was just too hard to actually give.

Have you had those days?  those years?  All the instant, day-to-day needs seems so overwhelming.  Although God asks us to give FIRST to Him 10% of what we receive, it can become easier and easier to make excuses, prolong the giving, decrease the giving and possibly altogether stop the giving.

In recent years, we've been learning to live within our means.  That in itself was and is so very difficult.  We then challenged ourselves to give out of our firstfruits to God and then live within what was left.  Although we struggle to do this, God has been proving Himself faithful.

We came across a challenge that a pastor in a Texas church gave to his congregation.  He asked them to take the 1% step challenge.  We LOVE this concept!  If you are giving 10% to God's work, challenge yourself to give 11%.  If you are giving 5% to God right now, challenge yourself to give 6%.  If you are not giving anything to God right now, challenge yourself to give 1%. 

It doesn't matter where we currently are in our giving... it's more about challenging ourselves to take just ONE STEP of faith and increase our giving by 1% to further God's kingdom in our church, in our community and around the world.  Can you just imagine how much of a kingdom impact would be seen if everyone takes just one step forward?!

We've decided to take the 1% step challenge this past week... will you?


If you'd like to give to our ministry to Lyon, you can find out more information HERE.  Thank you so much!

April 13, 2012

Great Blog Post: Misfits


As we continue to make preparations to live in a different culture, it can seem a bit daunting.  So many things will be different.  We will be different.  Just the fact that we will be foreigners in a foreign land will make us different.  I have enjoyed following this particular missionary family who have been serving in Paris, France for the past few years with Greater Europe Mission.  It is so refreshing to read her posts about life in France.  In this post, she explains this phenomenon so well... enjoy the read - Four for France :: Misfits!