March 30, 2012

Deja View - Our April Newsletter

Our latest newsletter has been sent out to everyone on our email list. We thought we'd share it with you in case you don't receive it.

Newsletter -- It Takes a Team...

(The actual newsletter is a pretty large file so you may be downloading for a little bit!)

If you are NOT receiving the newsletter or our praise & prayer requests and would like to, please feel free to sign up in the box located at the right section of our blog site. Right here --------------------->

March 29, 2012

The Waiting Game

Yet another newsletter article from last summer that speaks still so true for today...

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
~ Psalm 27:14, NIV

Is waiting as hard for you as it is for me? There is such a plethora of “learning” that God desires of us and it often comes in those difficult, long, painful times of waiting.

We were told back in February 2011 during our orientation how much God would be teaching us during this time of building our support team. Others who have walked through this before us also shared that this time was so much more about what God would do IN us than what He would do around us. We believed them all, but are now experiencing it first-hand. Here are just a few lessons we've learned so far.

Waiting draws us to a total dependence on GOD not on our own abilities. Psalm 62:5-7 reminds us to wait silently for God alone, for our expectation is from Him. He is our rock, our salvation, our glory and our refuge. We are learning that it’s not about what we can do; it’s about what HE WILL DO!

God will work when we wait on Him. He wants us to wait expectantly on Him and then He will do far more than any of us can think or imagine (Isaiah 64:4).

Funny thought here, but it’s oh so true—God is waiting on us! Isaiah 30:18 says, “But God's not finished. He's waiting around to be gracious to you. He's gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right—everything. Those who wait around for Him are the lucky ones.”

Maturity is more important than haste. It’s only through the difficult times that we will grow into full maturity through Christ. We know that there are so many areas where God needs to develop us spiritually so we can withstand all the cultural differences when we get to France. We want to be prepared to serve Him well, “so don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:4)

Instead of worrying, we are to pray & praise God! Philippians 4 reminds us that, “before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

While we wait we are also told to delight in the Lord, commit our ways to Him, trust in Him, be still and wait patiently (Psalm 37).

So, what are you doing while you’re waiting? Let’s choose to “take delight in the LORD”, and watch Him work in our lives!

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who wait on the LORD

will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
~ Isaiah 40

March 24, 2012

Trust—Do Not Be Afraid

We hope you enjoy another article from one of our previous newsletters...

TRUST -- think "Footprints in the Sand"

Yes, indeed—God is my salvation.
I trust, I won't be afraid.
God—yes God!—is my strength and song,
best of all, my salvation!

~Isaiah 12:2 (The Message)

What do we “trust”?  Webster defines trust as to rely upon or place confidence in’.  It’s often easy to trust in our own abilities.  We may also have close friends or family members that we can truly "rely on".  Others may have been hurt so much in their past that it’s impossible to trust anyone.

As we each walk this life as Christ-followers, we must first completely ‘rely on’ His strength, His care for us, and His best plan for how we can help Him in His work.

Have you ever searched for the Scripture for the word, “Trust”?  I did.  I searched through The Message, which happens to be our favorite version at the present time.  Here are some awesome promises to remember as we daily choose to server our Savior, Jesus Christ:

It pays to take life seriously; things work out when you trust in God.        
~Proverbs 16:20

Do your best, prepare for the worst—then trust God to bring victory.  
~Proverbs 21:31

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
He's the one who will keep you on track.
Don't assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!           
~Proverbs 3:5-7

I've told you all this so that trusting Me,
you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace.
In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties.
But take heart!  I've conquered the world.                    
~John 16:33

So if you find life difficult because you're doing what God said,
take it in stride.  Trust Him.
He knows what He's doing, and He'll keep on doing it.
~I Peter 4:19

Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.
~Romans 13:13

So, take heart… trust God… He knows what He’s doing.  He has asked each of us to trust Him and He will tell us what to do.  He is leading us on a wild path of His choosing and He will be victorious as we trust Him!

March 21, 2012

Dahlgren History 101 :: Part 2

Enjoy the continuation of our family history lesson...

The family singing through the years -- Easter, Christmas, Children's musicals, and community events

Through the past 20 years of our marriage, God has continued to teach us skills and carry us through experiences and trials that lead us to today.
  • Worship & Music Outreach—Steve has been graciously gifted by God to “set the table” for worshipers to feast on.  As a worship leader, couple & family, we have used our gifts in music and love for God in many outreach and community events.
  • Hospitality—In the various churches, Steve & Chris have had many opportunities to develop gifts of hospitality, serving and event-planning.
  • Computer Skills—Both Steve & Chris have acquired a great knack for using many computer applications, as well as bookkeeping, graphic design, publication/marketing and social media.
  • Administration—Beyond the many years as an Executive Assistant and Software Trainer, Chris also recently completed her bachelor’s in Organizational Leadership.
  • Bakery—For a short time, Steve had the privilege of sharing his culinary skills through his bakery in Wakarusa.
  • Human Trafficing Ministry—For the past 3+ years, the youth group at Nappanee Missionary Church has focused a great deal on the human trafficking issue around the world.  Our kids have developed an amazing passion to help those caught in this bondage.
The most amazing part of all is how God has been working in and through the Lyon City Team for the past 5+ years and brought our skills together with their needs!

As we skyped for the first time with Mike DiGena, the Lyon City Team Leader, he shared with us some of their vision for the future work in Lyon where they currently have “holes” to fill—
  1. Need a worship leader for the English-speaking church plant.
  2. Need someone who can help with computer & website projects.
  3. Want to start a ministry center, but need someone to help manage/run it.
  4. Need someone to help with coordinating visitors and short-term missions teams that come to Lyon—hospitality & coordination.
  5. A group of local French churches established a human trafficking non-profit organization to help reach out to girls in Lyon.

We know that God has been working in our lives through so many different ways to prepare us for THIS time in THIS city!

March 18, 2012

Dahlgren History 101 :: Part 1

Another newsletter article to catch you up about how God has been working through the years... in two parts:

It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.
Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had his eye on us,
had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose
He is working out in everything and everyone.
~ Ephesians 1:11

In talking with so many of you, we’ve found that many don’t know the backstory of how God has been weaving this very cool tapestry throughout the years to prepare us for our future ministry in Lyon.  So, let’s back up a few years and do a little Dahlgren History 101.
At around 10 years old, Steve began his musical journey with organ lessons.  A few years later he began learning how to master the piano as well.  By middle school he was accompanying high school graduations, church services and anything in between.  He spent his high school years as an organist/pianist at a few churches and assisted in music ministry.
Steve knew that music was going to play a major role in his life, and that he would use the gifts God gave him to lead others into the presence of God through worship.


Chris began piano lessons at the young age of 6, and continued for six years.  One day she came home from school and announced that she was now accompanying the middle school choir at the next choir concert.  Soon after this, Chris began accompanying church services as well.  Singing began in early elementary when Chris and her sisters sang, “I Have a Promise” in church concerts.

Missions Conferences were the highlight of the year at Chris’ home church, Living Gospel.  She loved hearing how God was working throughout the world.
In high school, Chris joined the youth group on a week-long missions trip to Haiti.  As a first overseas experience, God used this week to begin planting a seed for missions that would continue to sprout.
Jumping forward a few years, Chris was 20 years old when she was accepted as a full-time missionary with OMS International to work in their headquarters in Greenwood.  During her years with them, she also had the privilege of spending three months teaching conversational English (Hoosier-style) in Taiwan.  Returning from this overseas experience, Chris knew she wanted to serve overseas and needed training.


We first met in Greenwood while Steve was touring with a singing group from Azusa Pacific University.  Then we met again the following year at APU’s music camp where Chris was a freshman and while Steve was working on his masters. Steve insists Chris followed him to APU; Chris disagrees. :)
One year later we began dating and the following year we married and began ministering at Modesto Covenant Church in Modesto, California.

March 16, 2012

Faith—In Things We Cannot See

We thought it would be great to include this "Faith" article, which was from one of our earlier newsletters...

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.“ 
~Heb. 11:1, NLT

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary explains the word faith as:

a (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
b (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust

Jesus explains faith to His disciples on numerous occasions.  It’s amazing to search the word “faith” in the Bible.  So often, it was explained that this person or that person was healed or saved because of their faith; yet, the disciples were continually reminded of how little their faith was—and they walked, talked & ate with Jesus!

Jesus told his disciples, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed,
you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.
~ Matt. 17:20

Jesus then told his disciples, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt,
not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain,
‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
~ Matt. 21:21

Jesus said, “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin.
Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today,
and tomorrow is thrown into the fire,
how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”
~ Luke 12:27-28

As we walk through this season of Support Team Building, we are continually reminded that faith can move mountains and what we hope for will actually happen.  Our support needs are great.  We are a large family of six… we are heading to Europe where the cost of living adjustment is an increase of 60%... we do live in Elkhart County, one of the hardest hit areas since the recession began four years ago and many are still struggling.

It can be so easy to find reasons why our support needs are impossible, but God calls us to live a life of faith and we choose to believe that He has called us to serve in Lyon, and He will provide all of our needs just when we need them!  Praise God!

Faith is also a step taken by each of our financial partners.  God may be calling you to sacrifice in some
way, or to step out in faith—believing in something for which there is no proof—and commit to give a monthly amount.  God is waiting for each of us to take a step of faith.  Are you ready to take that step?  God wants to meet your needs and bless you in abundance for your faithfulness in giving.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over,
will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
~ Luke 6:38


March 13, 2012

Answering the "Why?" :: Part 4

Spring 2011 - catching a family moment on Morgan's senior prom night

Kids... teenage kids... really?  Why now?

Yes, this isn't the typical stage of life to switch careers and begin serving as missionaries.  We totally get that; we had the same thoughts... the same fears.  Are we crazy to think it'll be easy for them to leave their friends, a wonderful school system, community, and amazing family support system?  Yes, we probably are. 

As we were discussing the potential of missions, honestly we did worry about what this would mean for the kids.  It was easy to think that we had provided them the "perfect" situation - a safe, comfortable, loving environment where they could flourish and become all that God would have them be as young adults.  On the flip side, we began questioning ourselves...  Who are we to think WE know what is best for them?  Friends who have been missionaries for the past 20 years in Spain & Portugal have four amazing kids.  Reading about how their oldest daughter has been able to be used in ministry opportunities & leadership roles overseas is so exciting.  I'm sure her world perspective of God's work is much broader & richer because of the many cultures she has experienced first-hand.  As we contemplated our decision, this family's testimony helped to remind us again that God's ways are higher than our own and He has a plan that is beyond our comprehension - a plan for all six of our family members! 

Throughout Scripture we read about how God often asked those who followed Him to do things that didn't seem practical... right... best... good.  But, He asked for faith and obedience.  Think Jonah, Noah, Joseph, David, Paul... and so many others.  I think of the story of Abraham and Isaac.  Wow!  After waiting more years than any of us will most likely even live, Abraham was blessed with a son at 100 years old.  Then one day God asked him to sacrifice his son on an altar.  He didn't even question God, but got up the next morning and set off to obey.  We all know the story quite well... just in the nick of time God provided a ram in the thicket as the sacrifice.

In comparison, it seems like uprooting our kids is a small sacrifice on our part to be obedient to God.  We are holding on to these words that were spoken to Abraham, praying that God will also protect our kids and make them flourish through this experience:

The angel of God spoke from Heaven a second time to Abraham: "I swear—God's sure word!—because you have gone through with this, and have not refused to give me your son, your dear, dear son, I'll bless you—oh, how I'll bless you! And I'll make sure that your children flourish—like stars in the sky! like sand on the beaches! 
~ Genesis 22:15-17, The Message

So, we walk in faith, knowing that God is leading.  Many of our questions are still unanswered that directly affect our kids, but we trust Him and will continue to obey.

March 11, 2012

Klondike and other addicting habits…

Have you ever played the game, Klondike?  It’s very similar to Solitaire but with its own challenges.  I’ve played it long enough now I can’t quite remember exactly what's different between it and Solitaire, though.  I do know, however, that it's addicting.

Let me go back a few years… well, maybe 19 years or so.  It all started with the Gameboy.  Do you remember?  I was obviously NOT a teenager when the game came out, but I was newly married and my wonderful husband treated me with a Gameboy of my very own with the best game around – Tetris.  After learning how it should be played, I quickly became addicted to beat my score.  So much that I could get enthralled in it for hours.  After months of this, I realized this wasn’t the best lifestyle choice.  Luckily, I misplaced my Gameboy for a number of years and all returned back to “normal”, whatever that is.

Fast forward to recent years when I cell phones began offering games to play.  Just so you don’t get me wrong, I am really not that interested in learning new games… ask anyone in my family and they’ll verify.  But, when I do figure out a game, it becomes obsessive.  With my first game-laden phone, I didn’t know what the games were but did recognize the game Solitaire.  Bless my sweet Grandma Kirk’s heart… we learned how to play Solitaire (with real cards) back when we were in elementary school.  It has hung on through the years as a great play-alone-when-you-don’t-want-to-do-anything-else kind of game.  So, I began playing Solitaire on my cell phone.

Since this story is already getting far too long, I’ll jump forward again a few years.  I had just replaced my phone with a Blackberry.  It did NOT have Solitaire.  I was so bummed.  However, a game called Klondike looked sort of like Solitaire so I figured I could probably figure it out.  Bailey was still playing basketball.  I remember sitting as we watched a full day of tourney games and found myself playing Klondike while we waited.  Someone actually saw me playing it and mentioned how they didn’t like the game because they could never win.  What a great challenge, I thought. 

It does take a lot of “losses” in the game… those dead ends where you keep flipping the cards and realizing there is no more play to be made… before you finally WIN.  But when you do win, it becomes an even greater challenge to win again… and quicker than last time.

Now my latest phone gives me my winning score and compares it to my last highest score.  This has offered me an even greater challenge.  I keep losing until I finally win… then I keep trying it over and over again to try to be my last highest score. 

Well, I finally beat my highest score TODAY after trying for a few months now!!!  Yes, my highest score had been sitting at around 8,600.  The closest I had come was about 8,100 but usually I end with 6,000-7,000 points.  Today’s score was 9,115! J  Yippee!!!  What’s the craziest part about all of this is that right after seeing my new highest score, I couldn’t just be satisfied with winning and stop playing.  I had to play it again a few more times before giving up.

Now for the analogy that hit me while I was playing it today and scored big… We just heard a most powerful message this morning from Pastor Dave Engbrecht about prayer.  He was recounting the story of when God asked Elijah to pray for no rain and it didn’t rain for 3 ½ years.  Then, when God spoke again, He told him to pray for rain… and he did.  I King 18:41 says, “Elijah said to Ahab, “Up on your feet!  Eat and drink – celebrate!  Rain is on the way; I hear it coming.”  Elijah then went to the top of Mount Carmel and prayed.  He sent his servant to the sea to check for rain… SEVEN times.  The servant kept returning with no sign of rain.  But, Elijah believed the impossible was going to happen… and on the 7th trip, the servant saw a small cloud, which was then followed by a great torrent of rainfall!

Dave challenged us to pray… pray2!  Fervently pray for the IMPOSSIBLE with FAITH!  As we began worshipping, I was broken.  I’ve prayed for God to make the impossible possible… this seemingly-impossible need for a great multitude of ministry support partners so we can begin our ministry in France.  But, have I REALLY prayed?!  It seems like I’m praying when I wake up and when I lie down… I’m praying throughout the day… talking to God and begging Him to make a WAY.  But, am I really bowed down, face between my knees like Elijah and desperately praying for our miracle???

As I consider my addictions to Klondike, Solitaire and Tetris, my heart is so troubled.  I had to wonder today why I can be so faithful, almost to a fault, at continuing on with a game after losing, losing and losing again… just for the eventual possibility of winning, yet I am so wimpy, quick to doubt, and lacking in faith about the most important call that God has placed on our lives in a very long time!!!
With a new commitment to begin a deeper prayer walk with God, I am challenging myself to pray like I play… never giving up, passionately pursuing God, seeking His will without distraction, obsessively pleading for His hand to do what to us seems impossible!

James 5:10-11 challenges us so well…

Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything,
went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God.
What a gift life is to those who stay the course!
You've heard, of course, of Job's staying power,
and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end.
That's because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

What are you addicted to today?  Is God challenging you to focus that same addictive passion to something He wants of you?  Are you willing to pursue His challenge – and WIN?!

Thanks, Dave, for a great message - and challenge!

March 9, 2012

Great Blog Post: The Gospel According to Sarah McLachlan

Our ties to Cory and Shannan go back to before their wedding day, but I remember sitting in the country church much like the one I grew up in as Shannan walked up the aisle while Steve played the wedding music.  Although we didn't know them very well, we've since had the privilege of being graced by their testimony - love for Jesus - in all circumstances.  And now our girls, known as the "Sister Sitters" by Shannan, enjoy babysitting for their three adorable children - Calvin, Ruby & Silas!

Shannan has an amazing way with words and shares so openly on her blog, Flower Patch Farmgirl.  It's a regular "read" for me as I love what she shares and how she shares it.  Such creativity in her soul!

A recent post - The Gospel According to Sarah McLachlan - was especially touching and challenging and so much more.  I know you'll love it, even if it may make you squirm a bit like we do some Sunday mornings when the message seems to be spoken just for us.  Please take a few minutes to read it, won't you?

Flower Patch Farmgirl's stirring post...

March 4, 2012

Answering the "Why?" :: Part 3

Continuation on God's leading from Part 2...

"I don't think the way you think.
The way you work isn't the way I work."
God's Decree.
"For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think."
~ Isaiah 55:8-9, The Message

After all the closed doors to serve in U.S. churches, we shared with the kids about the possibility of missions and asked their permission to pursue this avenue... we received a 75% blessing at the time. :)
  1. We reviewed possible options, which led us to talk with Mike Davis of ReachGlobal.   He shared about many Western European City Teams, but thought we may match well with the Lyon City Team in France.
  2. We then skyped with Mike DiGena, the Lyon City Team.   What an amazing conversation, and we were so amazed that our gifts and abilities were so complementary to their needs.
  3. So... after much prayer, we began the lengthy application process with ReachGlobal, enjoyed multiple interviews, and was amazed when we were invited to the weeklong Readiness Event in February 2011.   There were actually quite a few times through this process that there were "yellow flags".   We really weren't sure if we'd get a "Yes" at the end of the week.
  4. God opened the door in AMAZING ways by providing a "Yes" at the end of the Readiness Event, along with an invitation to join the Lyon City Team!
Almost two years had passed from the initial move of God's Spirit within us until THE DOOR swung open leading to Lyon, France!   Even though we never considered moving, let alone all the way to Europe, we know God has directed our steps, and we will continue to walk in faith.

March 2, 2012

Answering the "Why?" :: Part 2

He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does,
the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. 
~ Ephesians 2:10
As we sensed that God was asking us to return to full-time ministry, we logically thought that meant working in the local church in worship ministries.  He had obviously chosen that road for us for our first 17 years of marriage.  So, as we began praying for guidance and open doors, we then followed our own "logical" steps.  We searched for openings in churches within driving distance of our home.

No openings.

We talked with the kids about how God was working in our hearts and prepping them for the possibility of a move.  We searched for possibilities and then sent out Steve's resume to quite a few churches in the midwest. 

Closed doors. 

We then questioned God a bit... "Do you really want us to move further away?  What about our house and the poor housing market?  What about the kids' great school and amazing church support?"  We searched for possibilities and then sent out Steve's resume to quite a few more churches throughout the entire U.S. 

Again, closed doors... actually, it seemed like they were locked & sealed.  Seriously.  

We sent resume after resume.  

Nothing.   Nada. 

So, again we waited and wrestled with God to know what steps to take next.  We knew that missions was always a "future" possibility, but struggled to consider it now while the kids were still in school.  Who would choose to pull their kids out of school and move them half way around the world?