Saturday, July 29, 2017

Nicaragua and Summer 2017

"Jesus, Lord of my salvation, Savior of my soul. Send me out to the world to make You known."

As some of you know, I just returned from a mission trip to Nicaragua July 12-24. The trip came up in truly a way only the Lord could have brought about. After two surgeries this winter, He graciously allowed my body to get healthy enough to be able to go.

What an amazing couple of weeks! I am honestly just so humbled and in awe of the Lord's graciousness. It is hard to put into words all that was seen and experienced, probably because the Lord did/is doing far more work in my heart than He did through me on this trip. I am so thankful for His faithfulness and provision in the opportunity to go.

I had visited the Petra Iglesia Managua church a couple years ago on a trip there. Some dear friends Jared and Tanya Cox planted the church during their 15 years on the mission field there (they now reside in Bozeman). There are now multiple church plants around Nicaragua as the gospel is spreading all over. Being there was like living in the book of Acts in Scripture and seeing biblical discipleship and multiplication. Also, the love and community of the body of Christ, their passion for Christ, and testimonies were quite overwhelming.

One of the most special parts of this trip was the opportunity I had to stay with a couple of the different pastors and their families, another church member, and then the Cox family at the camp and farm on Ometepe Island. The relationships built and strengthened with the believers there and mutual encouragement was such a blessing.

After first arriving in Nicaragua to an awesome airport greeting from the Nicaragua family, I spent the day in Managua with Pastor Hamilton and his family and had sweet fellowship time with ladies from the church. Once the rest of the team arrived from Bozeman, we first traveled two hours north of Managua to Matagalpa. There we did children's ministry at a school and women's ministry with some of the teachers back at the church. After returning to and attending church service in Managua, we then headed two hours south via bus plus a 1.5 hour ferry ride to the island of Ometepe to work with the Balgue and Merida churches and Altagracia church plant for four days. The time there included door to door evangelism, women's ministry, visiting the ministry's camp and farm and also time with a couple of the pastors discussing potential future ministry opportunities. After returning to Managua, there was a two day women's conference, where my dear friend and sister in Christ Julie Gossack was the speaker. Over 140 women attended! We both kept looking at each other constantly throughout the trip and asking each other, "Are we really here together in Nicaragua?" We have walked through much suffering together so it was extra special to have that time together along with her husband Ray. We saw the Lord at work in so many ways both in our own hearts and in the hearts of the people we had the blessing of interacting with throughout our time.

Here is a link to a 3.5 minute video of pictures from the trip.

Please pray for my heart as I continue to spend time with the Lord processing all that happened on the trip and that I would walk in obedience to Him in however He leads. Please pray for Petra Iglesia church that the Word would continue to go forth boldly and also for more supporters to be raised up to support the ministry ( Please pray for the Cox family as well - I am so thankful for them and their hearts for the Lord and the chance to do life with them in Bozeman through this season.

Thanks again for your prayers and support!

Nicaragua Airport Greeting :)

Fellowship time with ladies from church :)

Children's ministry in Matagalpa

Matagalpa ministry time

Sharing testimony

In Matagalpa
Pastor Arnold's family

With the ladies on the mission team

Mission team
Headed to Ometepe Island

Headed to Ometepe Island

With Tanya!

Women's ministry time at Merida

Praying for the ladies at Merida
"On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."

Ferry from Ometepe back to the mainland

Caponera ... my new car :)

With Tanya and Julie

Women's ministry conference

With ladies from the island at the conference

With Isaiah, Jeremiah and Esteban

Women's ministry conference

Resolution 1: Live for God
Resolution 2: Do it even when no one else is.

Women's ministry conference

With the Cox family and Julie and Ray :)

With Pastor Hamilton and Jill's family!

Fellowship time :)

Before Nicaragua, we also hosted Heritage Christian Sports Camp in Bozeman for the second year in a row. There were 131 K-6th graders registered, along with 28 junior coaches and 14 adults who served. The gospel was shared throughout and we saw the power of Christ at work in a mighty way. He is so faithful!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Real Life ... Finding Hope in Suffering

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
–Romans 8:28

I feel like sometimes when circumstances aren't going “our way” it is easy to feel like we are missing God's "Plan A" for our lives ...

After returning from a mission trip to Tanzania, Africa near the end of November 2015, my body was a wreck and years of chronic pain in my back had taken their toll. I fought to come back again, to get stronger, and from December through March I worked to get healthy. I was even able to go to Nicaragua on a mission trip during that time and not have too much pain ... "Maybe this is the time I can get healthy and stay there," I thought.

Shortly after returning from overseas, in the course of about a week, it all came to a halt. I went from training almost daily to excruciating pain, without really even being too sure what I did... again.

From the beginning of April until I got in to see the hip doctor in September the pain grew increasingly worse to the point that I had never been in as much pain in all my life. Starting near the end of August I also became increasingly nauseous, dizzy, and short of breath, and it took a couple months for doctors to figure out I had some things very wrong with my thyroid as well ...

Amidst this time, I was only able to teach the first three days of the school year and then had to go on leave …

"Really, Lord? You have called me to take the gospel to the nations and I can hardly make it out of bed?" ... I would like to say those thoughts never crossed my mind. That would be a lie ...

Wow, did I have a lot to learn… about God’s sovereignty, and goodness, and what it means to be still and rest in Him… He is faithful to use adversity to root out sin in our hearts, whether it be pride, or self-sufficiency or arrogance as we think we know better than He what circumstances will bring Him the most glory … I was brought to repentance in that, and more than anything through this season, I saw His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways, but that He is worthy of trust and all our praise in every season, and that the promises He gives in Scripture are the firm foundation on which to stand…

~That God does work all things to the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28)
~That it is possible to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds (James 1:2-4)
~That He never leaves or forsakes us and nothing can separate us from His love (Deut. 31:6, Rom. 8:38-39)
~That we can come boldly to His throne of grace and find grace and mercy to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
~That in His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11)
~That in this world we will have trouble, but we can take heart, for He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

I have seen God's hand of faithfulness and am rest assured that this past year wasn't His "Plan B" or "second best" ... but the very best of what He had conform me more into the image of His Son and to draw me into a deeper relationship with Him.

I saw His faithfulness in countless ways, especially through those who were the hands and feet of Jesus in so many ways in how they loved and served – through praying and bringing meals and giving rides and offering a place to stay and sending encouragement and dropping by and sending emails and texts and calling and coming alongside and continually pointing me back to Him.

I had hip surgery November 30 and thyroid surgery December 14. The pathology results from thyroid surgery were benign (thankful), but I found out my thyroid was more atrophied and inflamed than anything the pathologist had encountered before. The surgeon found it stuck to my trachea during surgery and it was hindering my ability to breathe due to the inflammation, answering many of the questions as to why I was so dizzy and short of breath for much of the fall … very thankful it came out when it did!

Recovery from hip surgery that repaired a torn labrum, the bursa, cartilage damage, and where the ball and socket overlapped too much is also coming along. There are still months and months of PT ahead (six months of PT will put me at May 30) but it sure does feel nice to be on the road to recovery. The hope is that this will also greatly help the pain I have experienced in my back for years and years.

I was reminded through this season that our circumstances need not define us... or we will be blown and tossed by the winds of adversity. It is our identity in Christ that matters. He is wise. He is kind. He is faithful. He loves us beyond what we can ever imagine. In Him alone is where we find joy. He has a purpose for our lives.

Do you know what your purpose is? Where is your hope in suffering? ... there is a God who created you, who loves you and wants a personal relationship with you so you can live for Him and bring Him glory ... apart from that, what's the point? ... without Christ, our suffering would be meaningless and there would be no hope ... but with Him it is absolutely meaningful and in Him is all the hope in the world! God is not far off, but one who draws near and can identify with our suffering... we are deserving of death because of our sin, but He has chosen to offer us life through Christ's death and resurrection ...  I pray each of you may find that hope.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

"God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." -John 14:6

Thank you to all of you who have walked alongside in this journey. Know your prayers and support mean so much. He is faithful!

"With friends by your side, no road seems too long." So thankful.

Getting up in the surgery center after having hip operated on.
Thankful for brothers and sisters in Christ.

Blessed :)

Riding around Wally World on the scooter after surgery... #LifeGoals :)

Praying for the nations... that all may come to know Him as Savior!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Better is One Day

"Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! ... For a day in your courts is BETTER than a thousand elsewhere... No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly... O Lord, blessed is the one who trusts in you." -Psalm 84:4, 10, 11-12

May we truly believe that Jesus is BETTER ...better than any worldly comfort, earthly pursuit or temporary pleasure, JESUS IS BETTER. He alone is the God of all comfort, He is our hope and He is our peace. He is ever faithful and never changing. Because of Him we are able to say "It is well with my soul," even when it is not well with our circumstances. It is finished, the debt is paid; He is the way, He is the truth, He is the life, and one day He is coming back to reign. May our lives reflect that we truly believe ONE DAY in His courts are better than a thousand elsewhere...

"Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead ... Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow!"

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Heritage Christian Sports Camp Report

Hey all!

Thanks so much to each of you who prayed for sports camp out here in Bozeman this past week! We ended up with 123 K-6th grade kids registered and averaged about 110 in attendance each day. There were also 25 junior coaches (middle and high schoolers) who served alongside 12 adult coaches throughout the week, sharing their faith on the field, leading and assisting with sport times, helping with Bible study, devotions, worship, prayer, and all the other ins and outs of camp. It was awesome to see the next generation stepping up to be reproducers of the gospel... Another neat aspect of camp was the opportunity to partner with a fellow Montana Christian Athletic Association school, Foothills Christian, who sent 11 people down to help - our prayer is to expand up to Great Falls as well next summer and see where the Lord takes us from there ... We saw the Lord at work in so many ways and we saw lives changed for eternity as campers desired to surrender their lives to Christ throughout the week. To God be the glory. He is faithful!

Here is a video of camp highlights:

Heritage Christian Sports Camp 2016

Sports Camp Coaches and Junior Coaches!

Worship Time

Mission Team fellowship at Hyalite!

#FalconsFlyTogether :)