How goes life?

I will apologize in advance as this may be a long read as I have not written in a long time.

I chose this title as this has been one of the most difficult times in our lives, I will say harder than I could have ever imagined. Started to learn two new languages, which was a huge struggle with my dyslexia. Started to get extra help with a tutor, and even reducing class schedules to accommodate learning the new language. As time progressed I came to realize that my talents were not in languages. As a result, I have switched tracks which will still allow me to serve in the ministry. I still hold on to what I have learned from those languages as there is wisdom to share with others so they can understand more.

During this process I received the dreaded, for me but not her, call that she had passed away.  While I grieve for our loss, I rejoice that she is in heaven. I miss mom more than words will ever be able to describe, and it is finally starting to hit me that she is gone. No longer will I hear her words of encouragement, I love you, or just a simple conversation. It HURTS! Yet I know she is enjoying the heavenly feast which we look forward to one day. I have come to realize the pain I felt will be able to be used in the ministry, Lord willing, one day when a member loses a loved one. As we were preparing to go to Wisconsin for the funeral it also meant homework for Jane fell behind.

While Jane did fall behind her professor was understanding and allowed her to continue in the class, and she is now caught up. She also has had to deal with catching a cold from her students as the cold season starts here sooner. What she did not know is one of the students had come to class with strep throat. As the result, she was out for two days, and I am happy to say she is back feeling better and being her mischievous self. I managed to stay on track but had various projects which needed to be completed around the same time. It is not uncommon to have all project work come due around the same time, then have a lull in school, and then one final push at exam time. We have also started to stay at the library for a few hours to get more homework done. We both like the lack of distractions it provides so we can concentrate on what we need to do.

Through all this, we continue to grow in our knowledge that God will not give us more than we can handle and that every situation prepares us for something down the road. He is our rock and refuge in everything we do. I make sure to remind Jane that from a human point of view I would not want to be on this journey without God and her by my side. Together through our learning, we have a better understanding what our lives will look like, Lord willing, when we become called workers.

As we start the end of the semester process, we plan for next semester with classes which we will both take. Jane will be on campus next semester for her class, which means we will need to get used to a new work schedule or possibly a small loss in income. I will have three classes and then be able to work in the afternoon, but only part-time. I have been told to plan on being here on campus for spring break as I will need to be taking some coursework related to me EFE and IFE requirements.So as you can see this has been a rough few months, yet we are surviving with God’s help.

In closing, I would encourage everyone who reads this to make sure to pray not only for us but for those who continue to prepare for the ministry, those in the ministry, and those who are responsible for teaching the next generation of called workers.

 

 

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Life and death

Dedicated to my mom who would read these and find strength from them.

Death stinks! For some life is so wonderful, some may not even have an ailment which would cause issues. While others have many. One said ailment is cancer called leukemia. I do not know a lot about it but I do know it does lead to death.

Over the past 7 years, my mom has fought a battle which would make any of us tired after the first round, she went multiple rounds.  This week she lost her battle, as she was tired. I received the phone call on Wednesday at 8:20 AM. I must apologize as I am going to be jumping around in thoughts as I write tonight because there is so much to say, and so many tears to shed.

I cried for a bit when I found out that she passed, but I was alright other times. I know as a believer where she is based on my conversations with her. Later on the same day, I lost it for a bit and then was fine. That night I did not even want to go to bed as I did not want to realize it was real. How does an adult not want to go to bed? It is part of the emotion that is there. Jane is concerned about me, but I explained that I am fine for now. We have a deal which is if I do not talk to her more than 5 minutes in an hour she should find out if I am okay. There will come a day when I will simply lose it, and deal with all my emotions that are inside. Even as I type tears are starting to gather in my eyes because I miss her and talking with her.

As a believer, we rejoice in death, but it does not take away the hurt we feel. I know I will see her someday, but that does not take away the hurt. I have been through a death of a friend or a family matter four different times, but it does not get easier. The only thing that I can do is not be mad at God as some would be. I know that this is because of sin and that Jesus sent His son to die for us. Does that make it easier NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It hurts as we will no longer get her hugs or hear her voice. We do have the memories, and dad can fill in what I do not know about her.

I will grieve in my own way. I will shed tears, and still talk about her. I will never forget how much the message on that Mother’s day would change history as we know. Mom, you may not be able to hear or read this yet others can, I love you and wish you were still here. I wish I could reach out to you and give one more hug before you go. I wish you could watch me complete this journey. I know that God has you in his arms and can’t wait till we meet again.  Till We meet again mom

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How much more can one handle?

How much can you handle? Do you know what your breaking point is? You may not know but God does. I struggle writing this as I did not know my breaking point this week. It has been one filled with a roller coaster of emotions for more than one reason. Finally, on Friday I broke down as God peeled the layers off of me to get me to understand he has this. What is the “this” I am referring to you are wondering?

The “this” that I am talking about is my mom. She has been battling cancer, yet this time is different. She still fights, but some days cancer gets the best of her and her doctors. She gets tired, goes for treatments, then she comes home to sleep as she is weak from the treatments. We talk about her cancer, we talk about life, and we even talk about dad. What we do not talk about is the end. This week was rather hard and still is. Based on some of our conversations, it appears the end may be getting closer. Yet I have to commend her as she is doing what any mother would do, which is protecting me from knowing the severity of it. She is telling me to stay focused on my studies, and stay the course all the while she is getting other things ready. So I ask how much can you really handle?

On Friday when I was done with school I went to the chapel, where I sat to pray and to have a conversation with God about how much more are you going to give me. While you can say we do not talk with God, I will tell you that prayer is a conversation between you and God which is a continuous prayer. I asked him why even though I already knew the answer, it is because of sin from our original parents Adam and Eve. When I finally realized that the layers of my wanting to be in control were peeled away and let God take it, there was a peaceful feeling which is hard to describe which came over me. I have realized that while I cannot make cancer go away, I can pray that God watches over her and comforts her. I can take all my frustration from not knowing all the details and put that into my studies. I take that frustration of not knowing all the details and put it into prayer for her and ask others pray for her. I can take all the frustration of not knowing all the details and give it to God.

One assignment this week was to read Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians.  In this letter, Paul encouraged the people to put on the armor of God along with the belt of truth so when tough times came those around you would see your faith.

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Eph 6:13–17). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

I did not know how it would apply to me in my life till Friday when I finally broke down and asked for His help. I know that she may read this, and I want her to know that I do care and love her so much. I commend her for fighting the way she is. While we do not know the day or time we will be called from our earthly home, we can cherish each and every day we have together. We can talk about the birds or squirrels or the goofy cats which stroll the neighborhood.

So I ask do you know how much you can handle? I will never know how much I can handle as God protects me from so many other things or attacks which I do not know about. We can only ask that he helps us get through it, and rely on Him for everything as we cannot do it without His help.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Eph 2:8–10). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Prayer: Lord of heaven you are the great physician. We ask that you be with those who are fighting a terminal disease or other illness. We pray especially for mom, Barb, as she continues her fight with cancer. Give strength to her that she may continue the fight. Comfort dad, Jerry, with knowing you are there to help both of them. We ask that you comfort the family knowing you will not give us more than we can handle. Provide us the strength we need to get through each day. Help us realize our reliance is not us but is on you. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

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Made it through the first week

What would you do if you spent almost the whole day doing homework? If I am guessing correctly some of you would go as far as to complain about it or look at what you did wrong that it took that much time. In our case, there is just a lot of homework which needs to be done when you have five classes and are starting on working on translating words from one language into another.

As we started the school year I was a little bit nervous not knowing what to expect or how I was going to be able to handle the languages as I never did take a language course in high school or any other college. Yet the professors are going through the steps little by little. Jane and I are adjusting our routine a bit as I need her help at night to help me drill with the flash cards I made. It is fun to listen to her when she states she does not want to mess me up, I simply reassure her that she will not as I can correct her when I hear something wrong.  I am taking what is considered a full load this semester so I can focus on other courses next semester. In one class I will be writing a paper every week on one of the Epistles, which will be fun as I get to look for gospel passages in the letter.

Jane is working on Christian Doctrine 2, which requires here to read and write a small devotion. She is also getting used to her role as a helper for me. When she comes home I attempt to have dinner ready, unless she picks me up from school. We talk about our day, eat, do dishes, and then off to homework land for both of us. I am very proud of her as there are days in which you can see her stress from work, but she still keeps going. On Monday she met me at school to attend opening worship. During the sermon, I looked over at her and realized that I would not want to go on this journey without her. I am very proud of her and the support she has given me on my hard days

Hard to believe we are coming to the end of August, it seems just like yesterday when we arrived. Our chapel sermons remind me that we are right where God wants us to be at this moment. It also reminds me that the tower of Bable was created out of sinful pride. When we make it about us we take our eyes off Jesus, and what He has done for us.

I will close for now as we need to get ready for church. I would ask that you please Jane and me in your prayers, along with the rest of our family. I would also encourage you to pray for those affected by the hurricane in Texas, as many people will return home to complete loss of their earthly stuff. As I find the time I will update more, and even attempt to type in Greek or Hebrew.  May God be with you.

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Settling in

How do you settle in when you are in a temporary situation? How do settle in when you know your time is limited? Better yet how do you handle the down time when you have it? It is very difficult to explain when you have not been through something like this, especially when you are use to being on the go or serving at various points in your life.

As our time here has grown we are settling in to our temporary housing. Our house is also our safe spot, were we can turn out the world when we need to. It is also our spot to sit, talk or even enjoy a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. It is hard when you attempt to put your own spin on the house as you do not own it, and would prefer not to put a lot of nail holes in the wall, which we have found a solution for. When looking at work the same feeling comes across as you know you are there only temporary. So do you suggest changes or do you get used to the way things are as you will only be there temporary.

When we reflect on our temporary situation we are reminded to keep our eye on the end goal, which is to serve in the public ministry by sharing the reason for the hope we have. We know that one day we will come to our final resting spot, or better way to say it our first call. For a moment I want to take a detour to reflect on the temporary things of this life. When we look at the life of Abram, Issac, Jacob, Jesus and even Paul. All of them had temporary housing, and their journey was longer and more difficult when we compare it to what we have today. They did not have cars, internet, cell phones, or even Facebook. Based on what we have been told in the Bible, they also struggled. Yet God provided for them, as he does us today. We simply must keep our eyes on the goal and never lose faith.

Things for us here our settling down. We are getting in to our routines, while making adjustments as needed. We have had fun going to a different town for fresh meat and various brats. Jane is loving watching the children start to make a change in attitude as well as their wanting to learn more. We went in last Sunday to re-set up her room as they had waxed the floor, it now is set up so it helps the learning process by having more defined area for learning different skills. I am getting used to my new role as a student, and realizing that I am not in control of anything when it comes to schooling. I have had one class schedule change, and am waiting for the second one to come. I have been told it could happen as late as the first day of class. We are also exploring different cities around home, as we like to see were the roads take us and the only cost is a tank of gas.

I will close for now with the words that Paul wrote in his first letter to the church in Corinth “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV84)

 

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Weird feelings

Did you ever have that weird feeling when something major changes in your life, but you do not know how to respond? What about when you are used to serving, but now you don’t? What happens when the roles of the house change? Most will say I can handle it, while another may say I need the rest to be able to focus on what lies ahead. This past weekend it happened when we went to church.

When we went to church, met the pastor who was really nice along with the vicar. When we sat in the pew, I began looking around admired the building, then I started to wonder what I could do to help. That is when it hit me, there is nothing I can do as I am not a member as this was not our home church. Even at communion time, it felt different as I was not able to help. I guess this is going to take some getting used to, and more importantly I know it is teaching my patients as I know in a few months my plate will be full.

Jane started her new position today, which she loved. Listening to her talk about what she has been wanting to do for so long is wonderful. To see her smile as she talks about it lets me know she is right where God wants her to be. I also started my position today. This will take some getting used to as it is a different role than what I am used to. Yet it serves as a reminder to me that in a few months I will be busy and unable to do as much as I am used to doing. This will be the first time I will be going to school full time and not working full time. I am keeping focused on the end goal, which is to complete studies in the time given and then head to the seminary.

In regards to the house we are now settled in as much as we can be. Boxes have been emptied as needed, and then broken down for storage. We are getting used to the weather here, as it is much different than Michigan. We are used to having the lake help cool things down, but that is not the case. We have been able to get some pictures up which helps give it the homely feel. The funny part is we did some stuff just like what we had when we lived in Michigan.

As I close tonight, I am reminded of the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 11 ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The rest spoken about here is a spiritual rest. When life gets hard, or you have those weird feelings turn to the cross and look to Jesus for the rest and comfort you need.

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The journey continues

For those who are reading this we pray the Lord bless you and keep you in his arms. The journey continues. Our prayers were answered, and now we are getting settled in our new homestead and getting into a routine. Jane starts class on Monday along with work, and I start work as well.

When we left we did not realize how many people we touched through our interactions. We had people coming up to thank us for the kind words to their children or family. We were thanked for our service, and we were even told we were going to be missed. What happened and is still happening is what surprises us.

We feel blessed with all the prayers our family and friends are showering us. Over the past month we prepared for our move. The friends we stayed with will never know how much it helped prepare us for this journey and we will be forever grateful for their support. Our home church sent us off with a gifts which we were very humbled by when it was presented to us. When we arrived here we had some members of the school and church here to help us unload, which made the unload process go quicker.

As we continue on this journey we are amazed at all those that are coming along whether in prayers or reading this blog. It is our goal to continue this through out this journey as we are truly grateful for all the support we are receiving. As I have more time I will post to keep every one up to date.

In closing I am reminded of the verse from Paul’s letter to the Philippians in chapter 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Christ will always be there with us, but when we lose focus of the goal he will turn our hearts back to him .

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Things are starting to come together.

Sorry I have not written in a long time, been very busy getting things ready for our next adventure. For those new reading this post or new to following me, I am on an adventure into a new career. My time was not God’s time. I had to mature in my faith, learn patience, and most importantly pray about it.

About a year ago we prayed that God would open the doors which were closed to make this adventure happen. Well, some of the doors have been opened, which makes this next adventure that much closer to reality. Last night I received an email which I need to follow up on for housing for were we are headed. While nothing is set in stone, many of the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together. The biggest hurdle we have left is the selling of our house, which based on the professional advice we have been receiving should not be difficult to do in our market.

I am reminded of Luke 10, in which Jesus is sending the workers out to the mission field to spread the message. In his directions Jesus reminds the seventy-two “He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” In this account he did not promise everything would be simple or easy, Jesus even said “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Yet he did not send his workers out by themselves. He, Jesus, was with them every step of the way, and they, the seventy-two believed in that promise as well. 

So as we start to come into the home stretch of this part of the journey, we put our trust that God will make this work for His benefit and not ours. To borrow some lines from a sermon which Pastor Schamber wrote about keeping the faith, we are reminded we have faith which He has given us, even though we do not deserve it. We are reminded we should not let our faith be a smoldering ember. Instead, we should fan that faith into a flame by being in His Word on a daily basis, be willing to share it with others. I would encourage you to keep the faith. Be thankful for the faith you have, be proud of it, and be sure to guard it so no one can take it away from you.

 

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Getting rid of stuff

Yesterday was a milestone for me all be it a scary one, and even a tear felt one. Over the past couple of days we have been going through the house to clean it up and getting rid of stuff we no longer need or use. Now for some it is easy, but others it is very hard to do.

I am in the category of very hard to do. I am not sure as to why I like to hold on to things, other than the reasoning with myself that some day I will need that or use that. I am sure we all do that at some point in our lives. Yet in the end we really do not need that one thing or have any use for the other thing. What about clothes though?

My closet was filled with shirts, some of which I have not worn in years. I started to clean my closet with the top shelf first, then the floor, and finally the shirts hanging up. While going through them it was easy to take what I had not worn in years off the hanger, but when putting them in a bag to take to Goodwill it hit me. I wanted to put everything back on the hangers, what was I thinking by taking the shirt off that hanger. I could wear some of those shirts again, maybe someday. It was then it hit me. Did I hold on to those shirts as they are my security in life, the one thing no one could take away me? Are those shirts my memory to remember when I bought them and what was going on in my life? Was it because I had lost everything so many times, I did not want to lose it again? Is this part hording and I just do not realize it?  Was I a hoarder?

I checked out a web page which stated that sometimes we keep stuff because of depression, OCD, OCDP, and ADHD. As I look back I have to wonder if it is because I lost those closest to me, that keeping those shirts is what brought me comfort or some sense of normalcy. When Jane saw me struggling she reminded me it would be okay, and the memories are still there just now in my head were they can be replayed at any time. It was then that the tears started to flow as I do not want to lose that are close to me. I have lost those who were close because of the actions of one, and I do not want that again. I was also reminded of the one person who will never leave me, and that is Jesus.

Jesus will always be there waiting to listen or talk with me through His word. He will be there when I need to find comfort during a tough time or even when something is going good, he is there. As we prepare for the next journey I know that Jane will also be there to provide me a shoulder to cry on, to provide an encouraging word or even be my sounding board. I know that mom and dad will be there to listen, when I need to hear what I need to do even if I know the answer already. I know the boys will always be around to talk with and catch up with about things in their lives.

In closing I am reminded of one the many bible verses from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (2 Co 1:3–4). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

 

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Reflection

Today sitting at lunch I am looking outside instead of walking, because of the heat. I am listening to a song called The Rose, listening to multiple times. While it does bring some tears to the eyes as I am reminded of my time with my grandma before she passed away in 1977.

The Rose is a song which I would listen to as a child to find comfort during a hard time in my life, shed a few tears and then carry on for the rest of my day. Today is one of those days, which I cannot shed tears outwardly but inwardly I can. It is not because  I am having a hard day, but because I know that God has been part of my life during those hard days. I am truly blessed as Jane has been part of my life for over 26 years.

When I listen to the song you can feel the sorrow behind it, as one is looking for love, but does not understand where to look for it. When we attempt to look for things or “stuff” in the wrong area, the outcome is not what one would hope for. In my case God brought Jane in my life, as He knew I needed to have someone understand my wild and sometimes crazy ideas.

Jane has been by my side and I reflect on today, it makes me appreciate her even more. She has not only been a mother, a wife, a friend, and a student all at the same time. As she prepares for the next step in her college days, it makes me ponder what the next adventure holds for us. What I do know is God will be there guiding our path. He is part of the three strings in our marriage.

I would encourage you to take a moment out of your day to reflect on what God has given you, be thankful for it. If you are married, take time out to tell your spouse you love her. If you have children, hug them and tell them they are loved. Take a moment to listen to the song The Rose.

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