More than we can handle

So I was listening to Pastor Perry Noble’s leadership podcast and he mentioned an often quoted Bible verse regarding facing challenges in our lives.

1 Corinthians 10:13 “…And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”

Pastor Perry was saying that this verse is often misquoted by Christians when we say God only gives us as much as we can handle.  That is true ONLY IN REGARDS TO TEMPTATION.  That verse doesn’t say God will only give us as much work as we can handle or activities or life events.  I agree with Pastor Perry that this  misuse of Scripture is a lie straight from the pit of hell!

OF COURSE God gives us more than we can handle. Because if we only had as much as we can handle, we wouldn’t need God.  God gives us more than we can handle in our lives so we rely on HIM, so HE can show up, so HE can be our comfort, so HE can sustain us.

Now I am not getting into a discussion of why do good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.  I am saying that when an opportunity presents itself that was unexpected or new altogether and challenging,  DON’T put your hope in “God only gives me as much as I can handle”..because then we are placing our hope in ourselves.  Rest in the fact that we can Trust in the Lord in all our way and lean not on our own understanding, or be still and know that he is God, or cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain.  God loves nothing more than to show out for His kids as they turn to Him and rely on Him for strength, guidance, understanding.

For example….

I had just got done leading the last team over Thanksgiving. I was in the Anchorage Hotel lying on my bed praying / napping to get prepared for our team’s closing meeting.  Thoughts (or dreams) of how I could invoke the emotion danced around in my head.  Then my phone rang….

Me: “Hello”

Amy: “I took a test”

Me: “What kind of test?  Why on Earth would you do that?”

Amy: “Because I went to bed at 6 last night and feel terrible!”

Me: “What kind of test did you take?”

Amy: “Pregnancy test you do-do”

Me: “Oh….And…..”

Amy: “Another kid sometime in July”

Me: <SILENCE>

Amy: “Hello…”

Me: “Well great! Look I gotta run. Bye bye for now.”

Stunned, speechless, surprised for sure.  I promptly texted Amy with all the “appropriate” questions.

  • Are you sure?
  • Did you take the test correct?
  • Did you read the directions?

God only gives me what I can handle…was my first thought.  But I realized after listening to the podcast He is giving  me more than I can handle so I can rely on HIM to handle it.

Since then Amy has felt nauseated and tired.  I have felt frustrated with taking care of the kids and house and Amy and just wanting my wife back.  But at the same time I have spent A LOT more time in prayer.  Prayers for the baby, prayers for Amy, prayers for Madeline and Jojo, and prayers that we as a family cast any anxiety on Him.  Because for sure this is MORE THAN WE can handle!

SO logistics update (primarily for you lady readers)– Amy is due sometime in July and is somewhere between 9 and 11 weeks.  Today we even saw the baby on the ultrasound and heard the heartbeat!!

So continue to pray for us.  Pray for the baby.  Pray for Amy.  Pray for me.  Pray that we as a family continue to rely on Him.  Most of all please pray that this child will be a mighty witness of the Gospel, that he or she would be full of great boldness for Jesus and covering that boldness would be a genuine and deep love for everyone!

As my good friend Andy and I would say to each other “Come back with a story”.  Well here we go and we will definitely be adding a big piece to our part in God’s story we are living out!

Thanks for praying!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

baby brother or sister

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Belize The Good, The Bad, The Poop

So this may be the last update that I am going write from my desk in Belize for this calendar year.  We leave for Winston Salem on 12/20 and we return home to Belize on 12/31.  We are excited to get to see our friends and family and ready for some time to relax for sure.

Anyway, that got me thinking.  I should provide a year in review (albeit only 4 months) of being in Belize for you all. Then that got me thinking about all the HILARIOUS things and good things that have happened just in these few short months.  Many of these stories have been screened or heard by Amy and my good friend Jason, both of whom say I should write a book.  Who I am kidding when am I going to have time to write a book right now?  So without further ado I present to you…

Belize….The Good…The Bad…and the Poop!

The Poop

So I decided to deal with the poop first because well, I think the stories are funny AND if I waited to put poop at the end, you might scroll / skim the update and miss the good and bad.  So hopefully, I will grab your attention with POOP and then you stick around for the rest! POOP

  • Geckos – I deal with a lot of poop.   Right now Amy feels so sick and nauseated that she does not clean out Jojo’s diapers which means I get to do that.  That’s really not a problem and a conscious decision that we made when choosing cloth diapers.  But you know what other poop we deal with a lot…gecko poop.  I mean they poop everywhere.  And it is little tear drop shaped turds all around, on my counters, on the walls, on the porch.  It’s not that one gecko poops a lot; it’s really that there are a lot of gecko around and because of that there is a lot of poop.  It has strong adhesive power too because it is on the walls and it doesn’t really fall down.  See below for pictures.
  • Septic – So when we moved in, we had a slight septic problem.  Our pipes from the washing machine were sloped incorrectly and bucked up to a low point.  That low point created a back flow problem when the washer performed the rinse cycle, water backed up from the septic line into our bathtubs.  Well we fixed that and had a second septic built.  But it’s an open septic (like not covered with concrete and buried with dirt as in the states).  People actually just call it a pit.  That’s all well and good but when it rains (and it rains a lot) the septic which is in general usually full because of the washing machine water, reaches high beyond the walls of the pit.  Then septic water mixed with rain water spills out on flat and already wet land.  If we get a day of solid rain our side yard is a POOPY mess!  POOP! (And I didn’t even mention the smell..ICK)

 

The Bad

There are several things about Belize that “bad” isn’t really the right word.  Really nothing much is bad or unbearable in Belize.  BUT there are some things in Belize that are different and because of that, many people (even us) would consider some of these items bad or inconvenient at times.  I have attached 3 examples just for your reading pleasure.

  • Food scraps:  We can’t leave any food scraps in the kitchen trash because ants will sniff it out and we will be infested with ants of all shapes and sizes.  We also don’t have an outside barrel (or trash can) to place food scraps in, so we keep all food scraps in the freezer in the little pink bathtub thing you get from Rex when you have a baby (you know the one that you fill with warm water and give tiny babies baths until the umbilical cord falls off).  I have attached a picture of that too so you can see our freezer is usually filled with scraps.  When I empty the scraps, usually at night, I triple bag it and place the bag in the bed of my truck….Well then if I am heading out right then I run it up to the dump (which is really just a road people through trash on…seriously that’s it) or I leave it there until the morning and take care of it then.  Well the other night we had snapper.  Whole snapper.  It was really quite nice.  We had the bones and the head left over. Well I left the trash in the bed of the truck and the next morning I go out there and see the bag of trash open in the back of the truck, the bones picked clean and fish heads looking at me….It was almost like in Godfather when they send the dead fish back to the Corleone Family saying that Luca Braci sleeps with the fish or when the movie guy has the horse head in his bed.  Just really interesting.  That’s just normal life.
  • Nightly noises:  Our house sits directly on the Western Highway.  Right across the street is a bus stop so all day there are buses that go by and stop.  The windows are open so you can imagine living say on Capital Blvd in Raleigh or a HUGE interstate but without the stop lights and that’s our street.  Ask anyone who has spoken with us on the phone and they say it sounds like an airplane is taking off from inside our house when any truck or bus goes by.  Then there are the dogs.  Everyone around us has HUGE fences with minimum of 2.5 ferocious, vicious, rapid dogs that bark at everything at night. Madeline HATES the noise so she just yells “Sorry dogs, please don’t bark at the top of her lungs.”  It’s quite funny actually.  Nightly noises are something we adjusted to but we are truly thankful to the dogs because they did alert us to the person breaking into our car a few weeks ago.
  • Burning Bush– Another thing that is interesting….many people burn the brush (which is called “bush”) on the side of the road instead of cutting it.  Once again imagine driving down I-40 or any major road and instead of a road crew cutting grass there is a small to large brush fire.  In the states, that situation would illicit a HUGE 3-4 alarm situation.  Not in Belize.  In Belize it’s normal!  So one day I am driving my car and the fire is going across the road.  I had to continue to go and there wasn’t much I could do about it so I just punched it through the very tiny (<1′) flames.  But still fire on the road…glad I didn’t have an oil or gas leak.

 

The Good

Really there are too many good things about living here and Amy and I pray that we NEVER take anything for granted.  Just some of the many examples

  • Being able to wake my kids up every morning, eating every meal as a family, seeing the joy in Madeline as she runs to pick flowers or play outside in puddles, learning to live on what is truly needed and casting away wants, the food, the people, the friends, understanding that the local church is the hope of the world and being able to sit down and talk to pastors about their plans to restore / redeem Belize, getting to do things like pet monkeys, go to Mayan Temples, and snorkel the second largest barrier reef in the world (our task for January), hearing Madeline say “Jesus is my best friend, and I just have to go to Hattieville Baptist Church”, watching Jojo being passed around from person to person wherever he goes, letting the kids get hugs and kisses from everyone in Publics (our grocery store) because people love them, being in the center of God’s will for our lives right now, Amy being able to volunteer with at risk children at the Youth Hostel, and on, and on, and on…..

Praises / Prayer Requests:

  • Family Day – We had a great family day on Friday.  We went to feed Black Howler monkeys in Bermudian Landing.  Madeline had a BLAST!  Praise God for a great time of fun with the family!
  • Pastor Ed’s Children’s Ministry – Saturday we traveled to Champine Ridge for Pastor’s Ed’s Christmas Children’s Fair.  He had over 180 kids and 50 adults there.  It was AWESOME!  What a blessing to know that just June 2011, he started this ministry with his family and now he is influencing kids all over Belize.
  • Amy – she has been feeling a little bit tired the past few days.  Pray for her to get some energy back and feel “normal.”
  • Travel – We travel on 20-Dec.  Pray for smooth flights, lots of room on the plane to spread out, and a good time flying with the kids.  In Winston-Salem, pray that our time with our family and friends is cherished and restful!
  • Belize Teams – We have two teams coming in to finish the year.  We have a team landing in a couple of hours.  Pray for their hearts as they prepare to do ministry today.  Pray for our last team arriving on 29-Dec.  Pray for our staff (Eustace, Burton, Jenecia) as they lead these teams.

Thank you so much everyone!  We are so blessed to have some many friends, family, partners in ministry.  I really thank My God when I think of you all!  Thank you for continuing to love and bless us!

Because they haven’t heard,

Josh, Amy, Madeline, Joseph

 

Waiting in line for the Children's Fair to start

Waiting in line for the Children’s Fair to start

Septic or Pit

Septic or Pit

scraps in freezer

scraps in freezer

Playing with giftsPinata

Poop on my counter!



Howler Monkey 2 Feediong the money Feeding the monkey 2 Family pic

Gotta Have Faith!

Two of my favorite things to keep up with are basketball and history.  I especially love basketball history.  So this week when Kobe scored his 30,000 point and the talking heads on ESPN were going bananas about his place among the Top 5 players of all time, I was glued to their reactions.  Naturally, I thought they were off base and had the order of the players all wrong.  As they were talking about his Hall of Fame career, Hebrews Chapter 11 and the Hall of Fame of Faith popped into my head.
I love Hebrews Chapter 11.  Many of the verses start out “by faith……”  Just look at the list
  • Abel offered a more please sacrifice to God
  • Noah constructed an ark
  • Abraham obeyed and went out not knowing where he was going
  • Sarah received power to conceive
  • Abraham offered up Issac
  • Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter
  • …the walls of Jericho fell
  • Rahab did not perish
I am inspired by this list.  In fact, this list (and my own narcissism) was part of the scriptures that inspired Amy and I to move to Belize and really step out on faith.  We have never been more fully alive and at peace than when we stepped out, committed to moving and told the Lord that we were all in.  Man what peace.  Man what life!
My favorite verse in all of Hebrews 11 is verse 6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God….”
We’ve been down here in Belize 4 months; we had faith to move down here.  But as I think about the next year and the year after that, my thoughts drift to what it would be like to be back in the states at my old job, in our old house, living with my old friends.  I am overwhelmed by support raising again.  Where would the money come from?  What if we didn’t get it?  What would we do?
How easy would our old life be?  When our car was broken into, I thought to myself if they only had come in then we could go back to the states.  One day Joseph had a mild seizure when we were eating lunch.  I thought for a second “what if it’s something serious…oh then we could go back.”
I was driving the other day and thinking to myself where is your faith Josh?  Where is the faith that brought you here?  And the Lord told me faith is a choice in the face of a decision.  The reality is that those people in the Hall of Fame of faith…didn’t have faith once and it carried them through their entire life.  Abraham CHOSE faith when he left his home land and he CHOSE faith when he offered up Issac.  Noah, Joshua, Moses, etc. all of those people CHOSE to walk by faith each time and some each day of their life.  Even Christ in the Garden said Lord if it is your will, take this cup from me.  Jesus had the power to stop his own death but He CHOSE to have faith that he was accomplishing God’s plan.
Many of us in the organization are like me. We left jobs we could have retired early on, sacrificed more prestige, money, or time to make calls and lead trips.  The reason we have done this is because we have CHOSEN to live by FAITH.  We have chosen a life of faith that would please Him than live a life without faith.
Let me be real, the life of faith is NOT the easy life.  But God didn’t say He would make our life easy (wish He did).  We live to bring him glory and we bring Him glory by choosing faith daily in our lives.
Kobe Bryant has played 17 seasons in the NBA.  Really his longevity is unprecedented.  I was listening to an interview with him one time and the sport’s writer asked how he is able to continue to go, continue to play.  He said he makes many choices each day, to wake up early to work out, get to a shoot around early to work on his game, rest his legs, etc instead of going out.  He said he makes choices on what to eat, what to drink, to not go out with friends and so on.  His number one reason for making those choices is that he wants to be the best basketball player ever.  He has to make choices daily, hourly, to reach his desired Goal.
What’s your desired goal in life?  Mine is to live a life that is pleasing to God….a life of faith.
It’s easy to choose faith once (like choosing to work for a missions organization) and then forgetting about living by faith after that.  Throughout this week, I pray that we can all examine ourselves honestly, don’t be discouraged if your mind slips into longings of the world like mine does here all too often.  But be encouraged that we have chosen a life of Faith and we can continue to choose faith daily, weekly, monthly, yearly!  I know I will try to do the same.

For without Faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God! – Hebrews 11:6

God Bless,

 

Lost People Matter to God

12-6-2012 – Edmonds’ Update

It’s Christmas time in the City…..ring a ling….hear them ring….soon it will be Christmas day.  I love Christmas time.  Amy loves Christmas time and now Madeline has started to really love Christmas time.  Each day we take piece of paper from our Advent Santa and we either sing a song together, do an activity, or read a book / bible study.  Every day we are doing something of a family to get into the season.  Here in Belize Christmas is in full swing.  Downtown Atlantic Bank (one of the largest buildings in the city is all lit up) and the Christmas tree is up on Albert Street.  Many houses also have lights and Christmas trees up too!

Our family loves Christmas and we are just excited to be able to enjoy Christmas in Belize too!  The weather may be warmer but the same Christmas cheer is just about everywhere.

Update on the kids…

  • Madeline: …is a nut!  She loves, loves, loves flowers.  Anything about flowers.  She picks flowers all the time.  Amy is trying to learn about the flowers and teach Madeline what flowers names are.  Just today Madeline and I were at a fruit stand and she said “look daddy biscuit flowers”.  I am assuming that she meant Hibiscus but I am not 100% sure.  Madeline also is learning a lot!  She can recognize all letters and uses new words (probably is her favorite saying things like “I will probably climb on the top bunk later to read.”  I guess Super Why is good for something!
  • Joseph – Is so easy going and relaxed it’s hilarious.  He eats a lot and drinks a lot and is FINALLY taking steps!  Although we have had 2 instances of a busted lip, he is getting the hang of walking!

How is God Teaching me?

A true story that I didn’t see Jesus in until I read an identical story one a pastor’s blog.

So maybe a couple of weeks ago, all of us were going to go on an adventure (which usually means go to the grocery store or into the city for something).  Amy was packing bags, I was putting the stroller in the car, and then strapping Jojo in.  Madeline was running around inside, getting her shoes on.  Well the car was packed and it was time to go, so I come inside the house to get Madeline.  I say Madeline it’s time to go and I don’t hear anything.  I look in the living room and she’s not there.  I start to panic a little bit.  I call her name again and don’t hear anything.  I go to her room and she’s not there either.  I go into Joseph’s room and then our room…no Madeline.  I call her name again.  Amy comes in and I ask where Madeline is….we aren’t too sure but know (sort of) that she couldn’t have gone far.  I open up the bathroom doors, check closets…looking everywhere.  The total time has reached at least 11 seconds by this point and I am freaking out internally.  I go around the house one way and Amy goes the other.  I hear “she’s right here” and I am relieved.  Turns out she was picking flowers for everyone.  I did scoop her up and hug her tight and tell her that I loved her..told her that she needed to let us know where she was when we were calling for her too….

And then after reading a Pastor’s blog this morning, it hit me.  I am Madeline’s father and because of my intense love for her when I thought that she was lost, I was freaking out.  I wanted nothing more than at that moment to find Madeline and make sure that she was ok….and to me ok for Madeline was to be with me, close to me, loved by me.

God is The Father.  His deepest desire is for His children who are lost to come back to Him. He wants to hold, hug, love, show out for His children because He loves them like a dad…more than any fatherly love that I have for Madeline.

So what?  Here’s what. Lost people matter to God!  They matter a TON!  They are LOST KIDS to a FATHER!  God will leave no stone unturned as He looks to find those lost.  Read Luke 19:10, Read Luke 15.  There is a party in the presence of the angels….hello!  That means that God is celebrating when Lost people are found…when people surrender their life to Him.  Like a HUGE hug and a kiss and I love you that I gave to Madeline…relief, joy, celebration.

If God searches for Lost people like I did for Madeline that means that if I am a disciple of Jesus then I MUST care for lost people, I MUST tell people about Jesus.

For me with my work , I can get involved in the details…meeting with pastors, typing up profiles, organizing information, etc.  I mean I work for a MISSIONS organization. But if I am NOT actively seeking out lost people to evangelize to then I am not seeking Lost people like God commanded me to.

The question I am asking myself today “Am I calling out the lost, going room to room, closet to closet, telling people about Jesus?”  God is searching for the lost and I should be too…like a father calling for his child!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  • Belize
    • Christmas time – Many children in Belize will NOT receive ANYTHING from their family for Christmas.  That is usually because of the extreme poverty.  The Church in Belize is meeting this need by holding Christmas offering and delivering toys to the kids of their villages.  Pray that these through activities…children with little joy would have a sense of joy this Christmas season.
    • Pastor Ed Children’s Ministry – Pastor Ed, as many of you have prayed for, is a great friend of mine and has a children’s ministry across 3 locations each Saturday.  This Saturday Pastor Ed is holding his children’s ministry Christmas Fair. We are praying for 200 kids and 50 adults.  Please join us in praying for those numbers!
    • Pastor Rosaura – I met with this pastor on Monday.  We were speaking and she mentioned that she and her village were fasting and praying for the Sugar Cane industry in Belize as cane harvest time is here.  Sugar cane is THE industry of the North of Belize.  Literally, every village in the North half of Belize relies on the cane industry to provide what little income they may have. Many of our pastors are cane farmers, cane cutters, cane truck drivers.  The health risks are significant for the cane farmers, as they are walking through 12’ high sugar cane and harvesting it with only a machete.  Pray for protection from poisonous snake bites (a real risk), machete injuries, and safe driving!
    • Personal
      • Amy – still is feeling sick.  Pray for her to begin to feel better!  Please!
      • Christmas – Pray that Amy and I can ensure Madeline and Joseph keep the right perspective during this Christmas season.  Pray that our focus is on Jesus and His sacrifice in addition to the fun joy too!
      • Support Raising –  For those who are new to our updates, let me explain what we mean with “support raising.”  Amy and I are missionaries through Praying Pelican Missions.  We DO NOT receive any salary from Praying Pelican Missions.  Our expenses (flights, food, entertainment, etc.) are paid for through the fundraising that we have done.  Individuals, churches, etc have given to Praying Pelican Missions on behalf of us / our account.  People have given either a one time gift or a monthly gift or something else of any monetary value.  We are starting to fundraise for 2013.  Therefore, pray for us as we start to approach potential supporters and pray for generosity and open hearts for the people that we meet with.  Also, start praying through what you can do for the next year.  Finally, all financial support to us through Praying Pelican Missions is a tax deductible donation; therefore, be sure to get in your donations before the end of the year for your 2012 taxes!

Thank you for taking the time to read.  Please write when you can.  We love hearing from each and every one of you all!  Sleigh bells ring are you listening?…in the lane snow is glistening…..a beautiful sight.

 

Because They Haven’t Heard,

Amy, Madeline, Joseph, and Josh

 

This a picture of the harvested sugar cane on the way to the factory

This a picture of the harvested sugar cane on the way to the factory

Just a turkey crossing in Caledonia!  Gobble Gobble!

Just a turkey crossing in Caledonia! Gobble Gobble!

too many toys too cute

A laundry room in Caledonia (table, soap, 2 buckets)

A laundry room in Caledonia (table, soap, 2 buckets)