Some of God’s greatest gifts are….

It’s May 30th (I’ll spare the year to forgo how old I am now).  Seventeen year old Josh is praying while blowing out his birthday candles and he prays:

God my girlfriend, please let’s stay together.  In fact God I pray right now before eating this birthday cake, ice cream, and pink lemonade [my staple birthday spread], that you let me stay with my girlfriend. In fact God I’ll say this.  Let us get married.

Seventeen year old Josh….idiot.  God clearly answered the very next day.  NO.  NOPE.  NOT THIS ONE.  Seventeen year old Josh cried snot bubble tears, tried to “win her back” by taking swing dance lessons and all in all embarrassed the mess out of himself. It was ugly.  That time God’s gift was a clear answered prayer.  NOPE!

Ever heard that Garth Brooks Song “Unanswered Prayer”?

In the example above there was a clear answer.  “Nope, sorry Josh.  Answer is No” 17 year old Josh didn’t understand that the NO answer God gave then, led to the next girlfriend, the next girlfriend to an organization in college and that organization in college led to meeting Amy.  God’s gift at that time was a no! And I ended up married to Amy. #Winning

When we were in Belize, we prayed and prayed and prayed for community.  Y’all prayed and prayed and prayed for community.  And it seemed that God was silent on this.  Unanswered prayer.

Lord here’s the deal. Whether we are or are not, we feel alone.  Amy feels alone.  We feel boxed in, different.  We need community.  Bible study, something / anything.  Lord please bring us community.  People to do life together.

Each night the tears would flow.  The “discussions” (I thought they were fights but discussions sounds better) would occur. More tears.  And no community.  Unanswered Prayer.

God why aren’t you answering me on this?

Eventually we feel the call, prompting, impetus to move back.  For reasons that clearly don’t make any sense to our family at the time, we feel Winston Salem on our heart and we move.   What we thought at the time….Unanswered prayer.

The Lord provides a house, furniture, a set of strangers (church family) to care for our house while we move and we relocate in Winston-Salem.

We pray and feel God lead us to start an rGroup (church language = community group / life group) at our house and immediately it’s us and 2 other couples…..for a LONG TIME.  I’m a shell of myself.  Depressed, desiring for community but unable to invest in anything, my family, this new community, people around me, anything.  But people keep praying, keep loving, keep persisting.

Amy begins to thrive immediately when we are back in the States.  She immediately plugs into to a couple of mom’s communities.  Our kids adjust comfortably and here I am still praying.

$@)*(@# God I prayed for community.  Where is it?  I prayed for you to do this? And you haven’t!  What the…

Hurt, broken, lonely.  Depressed.  For me I felt a prayer was left answered for Amy and Unanswered for me.

But…People kept loving. People kept persisting.  Another (about) year passed and I stopped travelling so much.  I wasn’t here and there. Do you have any idea how hard it is to have community in one place when you are in and out?  It’s near impossible!  But I stopped travelling so much.  I wasn’t in Belize for a week, Nicaragua for two weeks, then home for a week, then repeat.  

I spent from August to January and didn’t travel 1 day outside of our house and my heart began to heal.  I was spending so much time from place to place to place that I longed to be where I was not.  When I was in Nicaragua I wanted to be home.  When I was home I wanted to be in Belize.  When I was in Belize I wanted to be in Nicaragua.  I can’t do this anymore.  So Amy and I made that decision and we (really I because Amy had already taken root), took root.

I started to notice all the people around us loving our family, loving me.

  • Our staff team at church that welcomed me so graciously, lifted weights with me, encouraged and loved a completely jacked-up missionary.
  • Our rGroup family that sat through some of the worst teaching time ever as I was totally checked out from what was going on.  They faithfully came and endured some really horrible leading, believing that God had something greater in mind.  They loved our family so so well.
  •  Our extended church family and volunteer teams that just encouraged the mess out of me as I started to serve more regularly, with the limited travel.

I started to notice that prayer for community in Belize.  The prayer that we felt God was telling us NO.  That prayer was really Unanswered.  Because He had something better for us.  God knew what was best.  He knew and knows that He is orchestrating a GREATER plan and life for us.  And here we are walking that out day by day / step by step.  In some of the greatest community of our lives.  We are so…. FULL.

Sometimes God’s greatest gifts really are…Unanswered Prayers.

 

Prayer Requests

  • Foster Care Update – Our last post…our license was approved.  We have been called a couple of times about a placement but God had alternative plans for those children.  We got a call on Friday for another sibling group.  WE FIND OUT ABOUT THIS TODAY! Pray for us that we simply trust and follow God’s plan.  Pray for the BEST situation for all the kids involved!
  • Preaching – I have an awesome opportunity to preach one Sunday in May.  Pray for God to speak to me through the Scriptures, for my nerves (sweaty feet and palms) and for God to communicate His message through me.  Pray for open and soft hearts.
  • Evangelism – Our family, kids included, have had some cool personal evangelism opportunities.  I spent 45 minutes explaining how to share Jesus to Madeline yesterday so she can share at school.  Pray that we are able to continue to proclaim the Good News and hearts are soften to receive it.
  • New Opportunities – Our family has been presented with some exciting and cool opportunities (more to come later).  Pray for us as we run into them!  We are so excited about all God is doing!
  • rGroup – Continue to pray for our rGroup.  God is doing some crazy stuff in it.  We have grown from 3 families to … well more than 3 families. I think last week we had almost 30 people!  Praise God for growth. Pray for Amy and I that we lead well and can shepherd those the Lord has placed before us!
  • Two friends with health situations.  I have two dear friends: Jon and Tony.  They are facing some health situations that are relatively serious.  Please be in prayer for both Tony and Jon and their wives and children.  We are proclaiming in the Name of Jesus healing over both of their bodies!

Friends God is on the move in our family.  We are overwhelmed and overjoyed.  Thanks for travelling on this adventure with us.  If we can be praying for any of y’all in any way.  Please please let us know!

We had to move our community group from upstairs to downstairs. Seating is varied on Tuesday nights for sure! If you’re local and not doing anything on Tuesdays come on by and check it out!

Crazy Hair day at school during Spirit Week

Friday lunch date – every Friday with this beauty.

Foster Care Update: All the questions and some answers

If you read the last post, update you realize that Amy and I are in the process of becoming licensed Foster Parents.  (if you missed the last post: Check it out here)

As we began in the journey all the questions started to flood in.

  • You’re doing Foster to Adopt right?
  • Don’t you know “those kids” have issues?
  • Where will all the kids stay / sleep?
  • Why would you do this?

And the comments:

  • I just couldn’t let them go back if they were in my house.

Amy and I were flooded with all the thoughts and some judgments and a lot of admitted ignorance.  So we wanted to take some time and try and answer some of these questions / comments / concerns.

Question 1 – Why?

We live on a principle that I heard described as BYSSIW.  Because you say so, I will.  The phrase refers to Jesus directing and providing the opportunities and for our response to be Yes Lord we will do it even when it doesn’t make since.  It’s based on the passage of Scripture in Luke 5 where Jesus asks Peter if he can get into his boat.  Peter responds Yes.  Jesus then asks Peter to let down his nets and even though that’s an insane proposition for Peter, he says “because you say so I will.”  Peter obeys Jesus fillets the miracle and follows it up by asking Peter to follow him.  Peter Obeys.

The most obvious answer to why is…Because God says so.  The Lord called us to open our home to anyone and everyone as far back as we can remember.  Amy grew up going to a friends house all the time who lived so open-handedly  My grandparents ministered to several people in this way as well.  My great-grandmother fostered well into her “golden years.”  My mom always invited people into our home, strangers or not.  Living open-handedly is part of how God made us.

When we got back to NC from Belize, we had no idea why the Lord had orchestrated it all.  We saw the sign on the side of the road by The Children’s Home here in Winston and I think we both knew in our hearts immediately this was for us.  But we were scared and waited.  Finally the kids brought it up and we instinctively knew it had all the signs of a HUGE opportunity at least as He presents them to our family from the Lord….so we obeyed.

There are many other reasons as well…that the number of Foster Children has risen by almost 11,000 children in North Carolina in the last 5 years.  That kids in the Foster system are often shipped around from home to home to home.  But the root of our rationale was we feel God calling us like Peter to put down our nets, calling us to follow Him in this  and our response as  family has to be “because you say so God, I will.”

Question 2 – You’re Fostering to Adopt right?

We will tackle the second question right now.  You’re fostering-to-adopt right??  That’s a great and legitimate question.  When we started on this journey this past late summer and into the fall, the answer was Yes.  Overwhelmingly Yes.  We wanted to be placed with kids that were only available for adoption, whose parents and extended family had already terminated their rights, and were ready for their forever home.

As we got into the classes and began to have conversations and learn more, we learned more about needs and opportunities to meet the needs for these kids and here’s what we landed on.

We desire permanency for any children placed in our lives.  We learned and now see that permanency is the best outcome for the kids that may come into our home. And the ideal situation beyond just permanency is the children reunited with their birth family.  If we can play a part in that, we are blessed.

Isn’t that risk?  Wont we open ourselves up for loss?  Yes is the obvious answer.  But we will rely on God.  Ultimately this is where we landed for our family: the fear of a potential risk will not deter our family from opening ourselves up to what we believe God has for us.   Risk or no risk.  Forever or for a season.  We believe the opportunity is from and of the Lord and we will run towards it.

We’ll leave the last few questions for another time.  The blog took a turn mid authoring.  See I started this blog last Sunday and then tried to finish it while following a thread on the Royal Rumble last night but was too distracted.  Anyway the plan is / was to finish it tonight.  Only we have an immediate update!

Update as of 1/30: OUR LICENSE IS APPROVED

GAHHHHHHHHHH!!!  We got a call today that the approval process (typically 6 – 12 weeks) was over and our license was approved in 17 days!  Now we are “on the list.”  Amy and I cried (me from excitement, Amy from unpreparedness) and now we are frantically working to finish the remodeled bedroom.  We have inventoried what we have and made a purchase list for a variety of items, sizes etc for the child / children that will be placed into our home in a moment’s notice.

So what’s next: We will meet with our Foster Care supervisor tomorrow and go over referrals (reviewing the placements that we are open to) and then it’s literally at any moment we could receive a phone call.  In the meantime, it’s a sprint to finish decorating the room, getting the last minute supplies and prepping our family for the excitement.   God’s on the MOVE!  Thanks for riding the wave with us!!

Praises

  • WE ARE APPROVED – Our last update we were praying for a miracle, children in the home by Madeline’s birthday.  Well the process that typically takes 6 – 12 weeks for approval, God moved mightily and our license was approved in 17 days.

Prayer Requests:

  • Wisdom – We are likely to get a call for children that may or may not fall within what we have designated as right for our family .  Our “right for our family” is a sibling group ages Madeline’s age to Elijah’s age, (1) of them must be a girl.  Pray that the Lord provides just that.  Pray that we have the wisdom field these referrals with all the wisdom that comes only from the Father.
  • The kids – Pray that they are safe.  Pray that they feel love, even if their situation is hard right now.  Pray that they know Him and if they don’t pray that our family can be the place where they discover the Father’s love.  Pray for their salvation!
  • Patience – You all know we are not the most patient people on earth.  Pray the Lord refines us through this waiting.  Pray for our patience and trust that everything is His timing.  It is we know.  But we lack patience at times.  Pray that we are faithful in the waiting.
  • Preparation – Pray that we can finish the room THIS WEEK.  It’s move in ready just not up to Amy and Josh specifications yet.  Pray that we can finish decorating and then get necessary supplies / clothes / toiletries or put people on call for them as needed!  We could be going from party of 5 to party of 7 before Valentine’s day!  Let’s go!!

Until next time.  Enjoy these silly guys!  Life is always an adventure.  Thanks for adventuring with us!

On nice days, we visit highschool tracks.  They have the best sandboxes

On nice days, we visit highschool tracks. They have the best sandboxes

Future worship leader

Future worship leader

Just a mess...always

Just a mess…always

still messy

still messy

Friday family days are for Target, free bananas, and Icee

Friday family days are for Target, free bananas, and Icee

 

 

 

Foster Care Update: The waiting is the hardest part

Greetings from a COLD North Carolina Winter.  We just had almost 9″ of snow over the weekend and it’s a frigid single digits for the lows over the past couple of nights!

We have enjoyed a few snow days, sledding, snow cream.  ya know standard Southern snow fun.  But now we are in the “kids aren’t going back to school for several days and we might go crazy inside” phase, so prayers for Amy.

Anyway, we pray that all is well for you all.  I’m afforded the opportunity to be drinking some seriously strong coffee to try and stay awake to watch this National Championship game (Eastern Standard time is hard) and write about the waiting.

Last we were with you guys, we gave a brief update on what’s next.  And what’s next was ADOPTION.  At that point, we were beginning our classes to become licensed Foster or more specifically Foster with the intent of adoption parents.

Where we’re at in the process: Now after classes every Monday / Thursday for 3 hours a night for 3 months (seriously back in college much?!?), we have completed our training.  Our application is being compiled and should be sent off for review / approval any day now.

What’s next: The wait time for application approval is up to 12 weeks, although it can be sooner.  So we wait for our application to be approved and in the meantime, we prepare.  Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically.

How we are preparing:

  1. All of our kids are in (1) room.  Our kids have chosen to share (1) room. That’s three kids in one room. They have done this because they wanted to provide Amy the opportunity to update / improve and decorate the room we have designated for the foster children…yes I said children.  More on that later.
  2. Stuff Acquisition – Amy has done a great job of doing some collecting of special things to welcome children into our home: Water Bottles, Lovies (blankets, stuffed animals), toiletries for a variety of types of hair care, coloring books and crayons, special snacks, and outfits (at least a couple)
  3. Prayer – we are praying the mess out of this process.  Our community is praying.  Our church is praying.  Our family is praying.  You are praying (more on how a little further down).  We are bathing this whole thing in prayer.
  4. Practicing – Our family had some practice.  Even though we aren’t approved to be “foster parents” [YET], we are approved to provide respite care for Foster children whose parents needed a little bit of a break.  Over Christmas our family provided respite for 2 foster children (a 5 year old girl and a 16 month old boy).  Man oh man was it a great experience!  We LOVED almost everything about it!  Both kids were with us from right when the kids got out of school for Christmas break until New Years.  They got to have their Christmas with us and us with them.  It was an amazing opportunity to shower them with and tell them about the Never-stopping, never-giving up, unbreaking, always and forever of Love of Jesus as we went through our family Christmas Traditions!

What we have learned:

  • We did a first day activity in class, where we itemized out the first 24 hours.  That first day activity that we did in class- SUPER IMPORTANT.  Amy and I realized that we had routines for our home / house and that dropping two kids into the middle of that (they arrived at 2pm) was a change and challenge.  The first few days were really awkward.  So we should be prepared.  Over-loving, etc.  was not working well.
  • You’ll screw up – When putting the girl to bed, we have our kids sleep with the lights off and doors closed.  She (the girl), said night time is when bad people come or bad things happened to me.  I was crushed for her but we didn’t do a good enough job of explaining to her that she was in a safe place and nothing ever bad was going to happen….explicitly.  We must State the obvious.
  • What are the boundaries – One of the rules in our house is that you can’t play with mommy and daddy’s phone. The girl when she came wanted to watch a Justin Timberlake video on my phone and hold it.  This was about 5 minutes in so I had to decide and share with her that we don’t allow the kids in this house to do that (go over rules) and that we weren’t comfortable with watching JT videos for our kids.
  • Hair Care … PREPARE – I know we can’t all prepare for all situations.  But the girl came with her fixed.  She wanted to have it down and for Amy to do it.  We knew this so we had prepared.  But when she took it down, we realized that even the Foster mom was not well informed in how to care for that type of hair.  Amy went out to a store and learned biracial hair and made it a special date with the girl.  Then every night before bed and in the morning Amy would style her hair.  We are familiarizing ourselves with the shops near us or resources around us and have them on call.
  • Know your family – the boy was a toddler (16 months).  And the sweetest most awesome Toddler ever.  I, Josh, had forgotten all the challenges with a Toddler and how it impacts how our kids play.  It absolutely altered how our kids play.  We loved the boy and we loved toddlers but to have that age in our house…would be a challenge. So we prayerfully and critically thought about what may disrupt our family and not be the best fit.  We remember some of the families telling us it’s ok to say no.  I brushed that off.  Now I understand.  It’s ok to say no.
  • Know the distances – We had to transport the boy to his parent visit, the girl to her parent visit and the girl to her therapy.  They had one more visit but that one didn’t happen.  Each week the kids have 4 total visits.  These visits are in Guilford County, which is about a 45 minute drive (or at least DSS is there) from our house.  We must make sure we know what transportation resources are available (Often DSS may drive the child one way for the visit, sometimes two ways) before we accept a placement way far from us.  Also, since we are open to a sibling group, we must think through same parents / different parents and if different parents then how does that impact visitation and the schedule impact to our family.
  • GO SLOW – We did not do this well. The children arrived on Dec 22.  We had Christmas activities Dec 23 (2 activities), 24 (2 activities), 25 (2 activities).  It wasn’t until after Christmas and the kids really got to play together that we started to see a lot of the personalities come through.  If we can we really must start the time by going slow.  Have meals in the freezer, have friends on call to pick up stuff from the grocery store if we need it.  I’m not saying live in a bunker but I am saying, some initial stability and a lot of bonding time with those that are most important in our family life will do wonders to help meet needs and establish trust.
  • Social Settings – What they need – We went to our church staff Christmas party and there were several kids that Madeline is good friends with (even a biracial girl) and I had instructed Madeline to make sure the girl that was with us was included and had fun.  It didn’t go as planned.  The girl was frightened with so many new people and wouldn’t leave my side, sitting down with the adults in our chairs when we were eating.  She didn’t know all this new and all these people so the default was to be with us.  This improved greatly when we had bible study over at our house about 5 days later but we must be aware of adjusting the social situation for children in social situations, babies my cry with new people, older children may tantrum etc.
  • That the world of foster care / social work / dss / gov’t is interesting – I took the girl to meet her bio father on an unsupervised visit at Hanes Mall.  It was great but mildly terrifying when I just sent her off on her visit with him in the mall….Eeks.  She even asked me as she help my pant leg, can you go with us?  Crush my heart!!  I, Josh, conspiracy theorized the whole thing and made sure I could draw a sketch of him if things went south (crazy i know) But it was great and he was delightful.  He was so appreciative and we chatted about what we did at Christmas time and how they were doing and playing.  Amy and I are very excited about shared parenting and creating permanency whatever that looks like in children’s lives.
  • Also we learned it takes a team of people to do what’s best for the children. I enjoyed going to DSS in Guilford County and to the therapist.  We really understand the need and importance of the monthly meetings and sharing and planning together for the best interests of the child / children.
  • We learned that support group is important.  We love our Bible Study.  It is our family / community and amazing.  But we will also need people who are “in this with us” (That’s our classmates that we went through the licensing process with).  It was heart-breaking to hear some things that the girl said and our community was sad with us but did not know what to say to respond in a way that meets needs and builds trust.   Another example the boy bit all the time.  Everyone.  We tried to give him teething toys, tried to tell him no forcefully, and eventually the kids stopped wanting to be around him because he was biting.  With our bio kids, we had a different parenting strategy that wouldn’t work in foster care in regards to biting.  So we were frustrated with how to respond in correction and love.  Support group would be a great place to brainstorm about that.
  • We learned our community is love.  Our community / church and our family LOVED LOVED LOVED those children.  It was so encouraging to see.
  • That our kids are really really really ready for this.  Our kids BLEW US AWAY.  Ours were BEYOND amazing.  We had a lot of talks about how the kids in our house might be sad when they are here because they are away from their family, before the kids came and we allowed our kids to come up with answers on how to respond.  This prepared them mentally and emotionally to navigate situations where the children were sad. One night the girl was crying in the room when they were going to bed and Madeline went over to her sat on her bed and told her it would be ok and was praying for her.  Melt my heart.  Jojo and her really bonded as she did with all the others.  Madeline and Elijah were over the moon for the boy toddler.  It was really precious!
  • Like the Grinch our heart grew and grew– When we had Madeline, I thought to myself I can never love anyone as much as I love this little girl. When we were pregnant with Jojo, I thought I don’t know how my heart can divide this love between two.  The thing was it didn’t divide.  God just gave me more love. God has given us  more love, to love the children that will come into our home.  This happened with Bella, Christopher, and Star in Belize.  It happened with these two children that were here over Christmas.  We will love them like (people will say this) they are our own because they are.  Our heart will grow and that provides opportunity to be hurt.  But the rewards, at least for us, the love that we were able to share even just briefly with those two children far outweigh the heavy hurt when they left and even now as I am finishing this.

How to pray for us:

  1. Speed – We are praying or more specifically Madeline is praying for kids to be in our home before her birthday – April 6th.  We would LOVE for GOD to smash this and have kids here way before then.  But it will probably take a miracle, so please pray.
  2. Wisdom – We are likely to get a call for children that may or may not fall within what we have designated as right for our family .  Our “right for our family” is a sibling group ages Madeline’s age to Elijah’s age, (1) of them must be a girl.  Pray that the Lord provides just that.  Pray that we have the wisdom field these referrals with all the wisdom that comes only from the Father.
  3. The kids – Pray that they are safe.  Pray that they feel love, even if their situation is hard right now.  Pray that they know Him and if they don’t pray that our family can be the place where they discover the Father’s love.  Pray for their salvation!
  4. Patience – You all know we are not the most patient people on earth.  Pray the Lord refines us through this waiting.  Pray for our patience and trust that everything is His timing.  It is we know.  But we lack patience at times.  Pray that we are faithful in the waiting.

We are so excited to be on this journey with our new friends from our licensing classes and to have such an amazing church / community group family, supported family, and all of you partnering with us.  God is up to something and we can’t wait to continue to share this journey with each of you.

With all our love (from our growing family to yours)!

First completed book of 2017!

First completed book of 2017!

Amy starting her reno of the bedroom.

Amy starting her reno of the bedroom.

lots and lots of snow

lots and lots of snow

This is our early morning and it's cold outside excited to play in the snow face.

This is our early morning and it’s cold outside excited to play in the snow face.

This guy was ecstatic for snow.  Last year's snow he was too sick to enjoy it.  It was impossible to get him inside!

This guy was ecstatic for snow. Last year’s snow he was too sick to enjoy it. It was impossible to get him inside!

Oholiab and Bezalel….a note on preparing for what’s next

So every year I try (and try is operative word) to read through the Bible in a year.  Usually what happens is I get through Genesis and then partly through Exodus until post the exodus and crossing the Red Sea and then I get a little lost.  I mean WHY do I CARE about the building of the Tent of Meeting.  WHY do I care about the PLUNDER the Israelites brought out of Egypt?  WHY do I care WHO built anything?  What does that tell me about the Lord?  And then it hit me…..as I got all the way through Exodus, I heard from the Lord.  He revealed the answers to some of these questions as He related them to our own life, circumstances and situations.  Hindsight tends to be 20/20.  But first a 10-second review of the summer.

JUNE

  • Went and served in NICARAGUA: Awesome, heart-breaking, inspiring, fun, beautiful, life-changing, and eye-opening, never before seeing a church step-out in partnership like the Nicaragua church – a post on that coming.
  • Took Madeline to serve on her very first mission trip with just daddy in Belize- staying the whole week with the team!
  • Josh and Madeline get to see Bella and Christopher in Belize too while we are there.
  • Madeline loses her first tooth!!  – And NO we don’t do the tooth fairy…going rate on the current market was $5 / tooth based on some parent / kid research I did.  That’s more per ounce than gold!
  • June 13th – Amy discovers bed bugs in Elijah’s bed….OH NO.
  • In the middle of dealing with bed bugs, Josh / Madeline are in another country and our washing machine dies.

JULY

  • Went and served in Nicaragua AGAIN and the Lord confirmed everything I observed the first time.  Literally that country has captured my heart.
  • AMY STILL BATTLING BED BUGS…this marks – month 1 in the battle
  • A lot of time outside with our garden, the yard, the kids playing

AUGUST

  • Guess what?! – still bed bugs!!!  Amy and Josh start to go a little bit batty due to the ongoing battle.  NOTE: We have since (we think) finally gotten the treatment taken care of and found a source / home…they are really sneaky suckers.  IT didn’t involve replacing the flooring in our whole house but we were really really close!  It did involve getting rid of the boys beds (original set) and the replacement bed set.  And it involved A LOT of laundry!  AN insane amount of laundry.
  • BEACH VACATION!!!
  • Madeline starts Kindergarten
  • BOYS start preschool
  • AMY has 9 hours each week with NO KIDS!!

It’s been an eventful summer and each one of those bullet points probably deserves it’s own post.  And to be honest I’ll probably get around to it.  BUT I wanted to get back to the answers from God’s word.  WHY DO I CARE?

The Lord called on Moses to lead His people out of captivity and into the Promised Land.  Moses had NO IDEA what he was doing.  He made every excuse in the book and each time the Lord provided a solution, an answer, meeting his excuses with solutions.

The plagues happen and ultimately right before the last plague The Lord instructs the Israelites to ask for MORE stuff to carry.

that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry.” And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people” – Exodus 11:2-3

I don’t know about you.  If I was getting ready to leave my home, the LAST thing I would want is to carry all this EXTRA stuff with me.  I don’t know where I am going and you want me to carry all this gold, fine cloth, etc.  I don’t care how much it’s worth.  It does’t make sense.  But they did.

After the Lord provided direction on HOW to build the Tabernacle and what to build it with.  This is what He asks Moses to do:

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins,[a] acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it. – Exodus 25:1-9

Moses remember when I told you to get all the nice things from the Egyptians?  Remember how you thought to yourself why we have to carry this much weight?  Well here’s the answer.  We’re going to build a dwelling place for me.

Moses next question to the Lord had to be in typical Moses fashion….ummm but I can’t build anything.  Who is going to build this place for you?

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furnishings of the tent, the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin and its stand,10 and the finely worked garments,[a] the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the Holy Place. According to all that I have commanded you, they shall do.” – Exodus 31:1-11

And God answered…”Already have that taken care of too Moses,  Just listen to me and do what I say.  I will make a way for My Will to be done.”

The story ends at the end in Exodus 39:32 32 Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished, and the people of Israel did according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so they did.

  • In the beginning Moses had no idea how He would lead his people out of Egypt but he listened to God and did what he said.
  • He had no idea WHY the Israelites had to take all this stuff from the Egyptians but he only saw right in front of Him.  In the moment He listened to God and did what He said, allowing God to put in motion plans down the road.
  • Oholiab and Bezalel had no idea how or why they knew how to fashion items out of fine stones, gems, gold and silver.  They had worked as brick makers.  They didn’t know that the skills they honed making bricks under slavery for the Egyptians would translate to making the Lord’s house.  They were faithful in listening to God and doing what He said in making the bricks and they became architects.
  • The people were strapped with an extra burden of carrying their neighbors fine linens, fabrics, gold and jewelry.  They could have kept it for themselves but instead they were faithful and Listened to God and did what He said, giving it all to Moses for a purpose they may not have understood.

Perhaps, perhaps this story is in here to show me, maybe to show us, that the Lord’s plans we may not understand in the moment BUT we are called to be obedient in the here and now so the Lord can move and create much further down the road.  I know at least for me, in this season of my life, that’s what Exodus has spoken to me.

A note on what’s next

In 2008, the Lord called Amy and I to adoption.  We knew it separately.  We knew it together.  We knew we were called to love kids who were not our own.  And as we have shared here on a couple of occasions, we pursued in obedience to the Lord.  At the time, it wasn’t in His plans.  Life moved on….way way on.

In 2015 – the Lord called us back from Belize to the United States.  We felt it and we knew it.  We knew for some reason that we couldn’t explain that it wasn’t Raleigh, NC.  We weren’t called to go back and be the same.  We were called to Winston-Salem.  it didn’t make any sense but We listened to God and did what He said.  He provide a home for us and we are here.

In 2015 -We obeyed the Lord and purposefully placed Madeline in a school and classroom where she is the minority.  We feel called to minister to and be in community with those of different socio-economic backgrounds and racial diversity.  We don’t know why other than God told us to.

In 2016 – We begin to learn that the Lord has placed people in our church family with the same heart for adoption, fostering.  We drive past a sign every single Sunday in front of a local agency stating Foster / Adoptive parents are needed.  Josh knows this is our family’s next step and Prays for the Lord to move in Amy’s heart.

In August 2016 – the Lord moves in Amy’s heart one Sunday in church from hearing clearly what our next step was…. ADOPTION.  It’s time!

Yesterday, 2016 – Amy and Josh start our first class to become foster and adoptive parents.

In 2008 did we know that the Lord was calling us to adoption in Winston – Salem.  Nope.  In 2015 did we know that God was placing people in our lives to help support / love / and hold up our hands while we are pursuing this….NOPE.  When we placed Madeline in her school did we know that He was using that “education” to help her and the boys know how to speak to / hang out with / all different kinds of people / kids.  NOPE.  Did we know that is what Belize was preparing them for?  NOPE.

We don’t even know WHERE THIS GOES?  But here’s what we know.  In our family we listen to Jesus and do what He says.  So we are going to pursue adoption.  Would you pray with us in this journey?

  1. For our marriage – that we would seek God first and foremost.  Go to Him with our questions / concerns / challenges.  That we would get time alone and get time with each other.  That we would continue to prioritize dates with each other and special moments together.  That He would prepare our hearts to love each other well even through inevitable times of stress.
  2. For our children – that The Lord would show them His love through this process. That they would understand what it means to love big, and boldly. That our kids would live sacrificially and welcome anyone and everyone that comes into our home….now and forever.
  3. For the process – We are praying for a miracle. Given everything we know about timelines, it looks like it’ll be 2017.  We are praying for a miracle that we could have a placement BEFORE March 1st.  Essentially BEFORE I would travel to lead a trip.   SO PLACEMENT BEFORE MARCH 1st!
  4. For the child / children – Yes we are praying to see if the Lord is calling us to child or children.  We are praying for their safety, mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally.  We are praying for our hearts and minds that The Lord would equip us with the skills as He did the craftsmen in Exodus to love any and all children placed in our home in exactly the way they needed to be loved.   Pray that the child or children the Lord places into our home would feel the presence of the Lord all around them and know and feel safety, love, and comfort.

So that’s our adventure…Like always Listen to God and do what He says.  My encouragement to you all is to do the same in your life.  Discern how is he calling you?  How can you do what He says?  And then walk confidently in it.  Our life is an adventure but there’s no one we would rather adventure with. Thanks for praying with us and for us. We are so encouraged by you all!

Lavish Blessings 🙂

Edmonds Family.

It's official.  Let's walk through this adventure together.  Classes started Yesterday!

It’s official. Let’s walk through this adventure together. Classes started Yesterday!

Beach Vacations are the best!

Beach Vacations are the best!

Me with two mighty warriors.  So humbled to call both of these guys my friends.

Me with two mighty warriors. So humbled to call both of these guys my friends.

Home visits in Nicaragua

Home visits in Nicaragua

Writing her favorite Bible verse on the bunk beds with the team we served on Caye Caulker

Writing her favorite Bible verse on the bunk beds with the team we served on Caye Caulker

Hanging with Bella, Christopher and Estrella at VBS

Hanging with Bella, Christopher and Estrella at VBS

In the Shadow

It’s May 31, 2016 and I sit in the Atlanta airport for a way too long layover, heading back to Nicaragua to serve the Lord, serve our Pastor partners and further Gospel.  But first I am sitting here reflecting.  See I am in the shadows of my 35th birthday.  35 years old, and at times I feel just that way…old.  (Note: When I was 18 and getting into working out, I remember hopping up on the cardio machines and seeing the first age that popped up was 35.  I remember thinking to myself, couldn’t they put something younger as the median age.  I mean 35 was ANCIENT.

Now here we are.  And 35 is me.  SO yes I am in the shadow of my 35th birthday.  And if that wasn’t morbid enough, I just read that my life-expectancy based on American male averages is 70 years  old.  I am half-way done with my life.

Sobering that fact is.  The youth of my life is in the shadows cast by my own mortality. While only mildly depressing, it does cause for some reflection and projection.

My first 35 years were filled with

  • a lot of learning
  • a lot of mistakes
  • a lot of idleness due to age but mostly due to laziness
  • a lot of wasted time due to requirements like “class” and “grades”.  So guess what at age 35 having read or not read Beowuf hasn’t impacted me one bit….there’s some time I would like to have back.
  • a lot of beating up my body
  • a lot of love placed in myself and the things of the world

My first 35 years were also filled with

  • a lot of love placed in the right things
  • a lot of firsts (love, kids, house, career change, graduations)
  • a lot of grace, mercy and love from the King
  • a lot of refinement into who He has called me to be.

It’s been a full 35 years.  But I’m not done.  I calculate that I only had about 10 years of useful time (where I was not an idiot, after 25 years old) and present.  And I calculate that by no way am I done.  So then the natural question is what’s next? What do I want to do and see and feel and have  in my next 35 years?   The answer is simple, I think.  The answer is more.

My next 35 years will be filled with:

  • More of God’s presence in me.
  • More of an understanding of who God is
  • More of me serving, loving, extending grace and mercy
  • More of Him refining me through the reading of His Word
  • More of me listening to Jesus and doing what he says
  • More….

More which really means less.  It means less wasting time.  Less selfishness.  Less pursuit of the world and more pursuit of Him and His presence in all that I do.  And it starts right now. 

As I mentioned I in the airport, heading out to Nicaragua to serve, to pursue God, to take his name proclaim His glory to the nations.  And I am so excited.  I can’t wait.  I can’t wait to hug and see the kids I hugged and saw earlier this year. I can’t wait to look Pastor Roland in the eye and tell him I was serious when I wanted to partner with him in how God has called him to his people to further the gospel in his kingdom.  I am excited to sit with Pedro Pablo in the dump community, bring him cold water and listen to his story.  I am excited to see lives transformed from encountering The Lord without all the distractions of the US.  I am excited.

I am also excited for you all to partner with me and our family as I am out on this trip.  Would you consider partnering with us in prayer.

Here are some specific ways you all can be praying for us each day!

  • Every Day More – specifically that our staff (myself, Burton, and Trent) would have the time to sit and hear from the Lord and get filled with more of His presence.
  • May 31st
    • Safe travel as Trent, Pastor Roland, Burt and I come from all the corners of the world.
    • Easy pick up from the airport
    • no problems with our hotel rooms
  • June 1st 
    • Meeting – We have meetings with a new key ministry partner in Managua reviewing lodging, transportation and just hearing his heart for his community.  Pray for clarity and that this pastor is able to meet some of our lodging needs in Managua
    • Meeting – We will be meeting with 5 potential Nicaragua staff.  Pray for the Lord’s hand of discernment and wisdom to be on Burton, Trent and myself and for warmth and immediate connections with these potential staff
    • Setting up – Pray that we are able to set up all the logistics for the upcoming trip (meals, ministry, meeting with the dump community, visit to the prayer overlook, transportation, and laying eyes on the recreation.  Pray for smooth logistics, no hiccups
  • June 2nd
    • This day we will be meeting with our host pastors for all of our other trips for the summer.  Pray for our meetings with Pastor Umberto, Pastor Edgar, and Pastor Juan.  Pray that they receive us well (they will) and that we can communicate the excitement and love that we have for them and returning to serve them and their mission.
  • June 3rd – It’s GO TIME
    • Team arrives – pray for easy travel and smooth travel for the team and immediate connections between the team and the staff and patience on our drive to the lodging facility.
  • June 4th – meet the pastor and pray
    • Today we will meet with Pastor Roland, hear his story, his heart, his call to ministry and the region of Matagalpa and spend some significant time in prayer overlooking the area of Matagalpa.  Pray this prayer time sets the tone of expectation and worship for the week.
  • June 5th – the community and church
    • Today we will be out in the community visiting everyone, seeing how the live, serve, work, and go to to school.  We will invite them to church in the evening and pray for them as needs are shared.  Pray specifically for open doors, literally to the homes, for invitations to come in and sit, and for our team to immediately feel comfortable taking the conversation from “hey my name is” to “hey how can I pray for you”
    • Pray for our church service at night that we can truly surrender all and worship as One Church in multiple languages praising and worshiping the One True King.
  • June 6th, 7th, 8th, 
    • Morning – Dump Communities – a couple of times during the mornings each of these days we will  be visiting the dump community in Matagalpa.  Pray for open hearts of the people, open conversation with Pedro Pablo and his group of guys, and for touched hearts.
    • Afternoon – This is our VBS time.  Pray for over 100 kids.  Pray for joy and opportunity for us to love kids where they are.  Pray for the Lord to break down communication barriers that the participants may be concerned with and pray that kids love deeply and participants reflect that love of the Lord to them.
    • Evenings – Our evenings will be spent visiting more homes.  We will have the opportunity to take some food staples to homes and meet a real tangible need of families that are starving.  Pray these parcels of food are opportunities to love people where they are and present the gospel to them.  Pray for open hearts and for heats to be transformed.
  • June 9th – Recreation Day
    • Today is our day to say our goodbyes to Pastor Roland and his community and go and experience some of the beauty of Nicaragua.  Pray for those “see you laters” that they are heartfelt and genuine.  Pray for our time during recreation, for fun, for joy, for laughter.  Pray most of all for our debrief time that it’s a time to reflect and celebrate on all God has done and then speak on and expect more from our lives after encountering the Lord as we have for the past week.  In short pray for lives transformed as we experienced more of the Lord.
  • June 10th – Up and at ’em
    • Flights out are around 7AM, so pray for not oversleeping and for a great trip home.  Ready and prepared with answers for “how was your trip?”

God is in this.  This is the first step to more for my next 35 years.  Thank you for partnering with us in prayer.  Thank you for praying for the specific needs of the trip and thank you for continuing to pray for Amy, Madeline, Jojo and Elijah as they are back at home and missing daddy (and for their daddy as he misses them).  God is ahead of us.  He is with us.  God is going to give us more!

Nicaragua staff team - Representing!

Nicaragua staff team – Representing!

Goodness, my looks have come a long long way!

Goodness, my looks have come a long long way!

With Pastor Roland and Trent overlooking Matagalpa and praying for the trip that I am getting ready to lead.  We were expecting God for more, not knowing about the team and here we are asking him for more again.

With Pastor Roland and Trent overlooking Matagalpa and praying for the trip that I am getting ready to lead. We were expecting God for more, not knowing about the team and here we are asking him for more again.

Pastor Roland.  A man of God.  A brief encounter in Feb led to a great friend for life.

Pastor Roland. A man of God. A brief encounter in Feb led to a great friend for life.

We have a 6 year old?!

So it’s been a month and a half since our dearest Madeline turned 6.  Where did time ago?  How was / is our little Madeline moving from a baby through preschooler and now in a couple of weeks finishing Kindergarten.  It’s crazy!!!

The Lord brought Madeline into our life in His perfect timing.  He has saved her and brought her into His family in His perfect timing.  But sometimes I just want time to slow down and for her to always want to snuggle in my chair in the mornings, or have me rub her arm and sing her to sleep.  Sometimes (even as she was crying from a bad dream twice last night), I want her to always need / want her daddy.

I know I am limited.  I am not God.  I know that at some point she’ll leave Amy and myself and be off to get married (around the age of 47 that seems old enough…then again maybe not).  I know she’ll have kids of her own (and we will spoil the snot out of them!).

But right now as she’s our 6 year old.  Our compassionate, tender-hearted, wild and free spirited, honest, artistic and loving 6 year old.  And for just a little bit we wish time could stand still.

Happy Birthday Madeline! Here’s our prayer for Madeline this year (and every year).  We ask that you consider praying this over her as well.

Lord we praise You and thank you and know that you are in control of everything.  You knew just when to give us Madeline and you know exactly the plans you have for her.  We pray for her.  Oh how we pray.  We pray for continued passion, compassion. We pray for a continued hunger and thirst for you and your word.  We pray God that she continues to see everyone has her friends, continues to love everyone equally and passionately.  We pray God that she loves you with everything she has and that you draw her close to you.  May her story be filled with sins and temptations that she was kept from because of her closeness to you instead of those You redeemed her from.  Life with Madeline is not without challenges.  As we parent through those and honor you in how we love her and help refine her into more of your character, God give us the patience and wisdom.  Show us how to parent Madeline how she needs.  And God for her.  We KNOW you have BIG PLANS for her.  We have had many people see that in her and speak that over her.  And God we have NO IDEA what that means.  So we pray this. We pray that Madeline draws close to You, that she has the boldness to step out into your plans and obedience to follow Your calling no matter what.  And God we pray that as her parents, we have the boldness to pray her through those, wisdom to counsel as needed but most of all the obedience to get out of her way.  Madeline is Your Daughter Lord.  You loved her before we did and You love her more than we do.  We completely trust you Lord!  And we expect great things, miracles in her life.  Have your way God!  In the mighty Name of Jesus we pray!

Amen!

Also in true Josh and Amy fashion and for your enjoyment and probably for her embarrassment later on in life: Madeline’s 6 year old Interview:

  1. Favorite Color – VIOLET RED
  2. Favorite Toy – MY LITTLE PONY
  3. Favorite Fruit – GRAPES
  4. Favorite TV show – PEED and QUACK
  5. Favorite Lunch Food – CHEESY CHEF SALAD
  6. Favorite Outfit – DRESSES
  7. Favorite Game – MARIO
  8. Favorite Snack – PRETZELS
  9. Favorite Animal – TAPIR (Yay Belize!)
  10. Favorite Song – LET IT GO
  11. Favorite Book – THE BIBLE (melt my heart!!)
  12. Best Friend – MARY SCOTT
  13. Favorite Cereal – FROSTED MINI WHEATS
  14. Favorite Family Activity – CAMP FIRES
  15. Favorite Drink – JUICE
  16. Favorite Holiday – EASTER
  17. What do you take to bed each night? STUFFED ANIMALS
  18. Favorite Breakfast Food – CINNAMON TOAST
  19. Birthday Dinner – CHICKEN PARMESAN
  20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A WEATHER REPORTER
One of my favorite pictures of all time.

One of my favorite pictures of all time.

Beautiful Madeline getting ready to perform a cultural dance at school

Beautiful Madeline getting ready to perform a cultural dance at school

Winner of wacky-tacky day at school

Winner of wacky-tacky day at school

Daddy gets to be the coolest!

Daddy gets to be the coolest!

Madeline LOVES Belize and parades!

Madeline LOVES Belize and parades!

How was she ever this small?!  But she was always wild!

How was she ever this small?! But she was always wild!

Why are we the ones to be obedient?

It was April 2013.  We had been in Belize about 8 months, which meant Amy was around 6 months pregnant with Elijah.  The spring had been a hard time, which really means from about Jan – April I had worked non-stop.  I was determined to prove myself to the Belizeans, the other full-time staff with Praying Pelican Missions, and really to myself that I could do this job.  I would spend most of the morning ’till supper visiting ministry partners and then post kids in bed to my own bed time ‘organizing our information.’  Work-life balance wasn’t something I was even trying to do.   Amy and 1, well we had the “talk” of “you’re working too much. You have a family.  This is really hard on us if you aren’t around, etc” And I listened or more appropriately heard what she said but my actions didn’t change.

I had led 3 trips that Spring so far (1 in Jan, 1 in Feb, 1 in Mar) and was heading into a back to back (2 trips in a row) in April.  To say that tensions in our house were escalating would be an understatement.

As I said it was early April and I was packing up my things, getting ready that Saturday morning to head out the door to lead Mt Bethel.  They were coming back and it was my first “return team”  There was new leadership, a guy named Cary who would later become a dear dear friend.  And I was extremely nervous.  I had prayed.  I had had and did have bubble guts.  I loaded the waters into the truck, the trip leader supplies (a lot of paper towels, trash bags, bathroom cleaner, toilet paper, etc) and through my backpack over my shoulder.

I was heading out of our bedroom when I looked up and saw her.  Amy was standing in our bedroom door, sobbing.  It was partly tears of anger; it was mostly tears of frustration.  But there were tears and some strong language.

Why do we have to be the ones to be obedient?  When’s the Lord going to show us, show me my ________________ blessing?  This isn’t fair.  This just isn’t fair.

I felt the same way.  When was the Lord going to show us our blessing?  It isn’t fair!  We’re missionaries.  Our lives are supposed to be sunshine, rainbows, unicorns pooping rainbows.  We’re supposed to be filled with the Holy Spirit and surrounded by angels.  We should radiate the glory of the Lord.

The truth is we didn’t.  It was hard.  We were in a season where we needed to walk in obedience and choose to follow the Lord.  I hugged Amy and told her I didn’t know.  We cried and we both prayed Proverbs 3:5-6 over and over as we stood there in our bedroom doorway.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

I knew God was going to pour His blessings over us but I had no idea how / when / where / etc?  What would it look like?  Would we see it?  And to be completely fair and honest, God did continue to pour His blessings, favor, and everything else over us again and again and again.  At times it looked like provision.  Other times it was friendship, or miracles of healing we were able to witness.  Perhaps the best blessing of all came a week ago from yesterday.

Madeline – a girl after God’s own heart.

Madeline has always longed after God, walking close Him.  Often Amy and I felt that she was walking closer to the Lord than we were.  For example, as we were searching out houses in NC, we had come up to the 3rd of 5 houses for the day.  Before we go inside, Madeline pulls on my leg (she’s 4 1/2 at the time) and says “Daddy, God says this is the house that we are going to buy.”  I remember patting her head and thinking that’s cute little girl.  She must be tired from looking at these houses and wants to be done.  But as sure as I was then, now not so much.  I am currently sitting in the basement of that house writing this blog.

Anyway, our church had baptism services a week ago Sunday and we had been talking them up for a while to all the kids.  They had already seen one service but we wanted to remind them of why we get baptized, why we celebrate like crazy, and what it means to follow Jesus.

Madeline woke up Sunday morning of Baptism services and just goes up to Amy and says “Mommy, I love Jesus, He’s my best friend.  I want to follow him for the rest of my life.  I should be baptized so everyone will know”

So I’m in Florida at our Spring Staff Meetings and Amy texts me that.  I immediately call her and tell her “NOT TODAY, I’m not there!!”  Then as I sat in our meetings and took communion reflecting on God’s goodness that conversation from April 2013 with Amy standing in the doorway came flooding back over me.  Here’s your blessing Josh, was what God was telling me.  See I am doing a work you cannot comprehend.  Just like Abraham was the father of many nations, me working through you will extend generation to generation to generation” I sobbed.

Where are you at in your obedience to what the Lord’s calling you to do?  In forgiveness of someone, in your personal pursuit of Him, in stepping out on faith and going on a mission trip or serving locally at your church.  With your finances.

Whatever it is, I know the Lord is faithful.  I do not believe that we serve to be blessed, not at all.  I do believe that the Lord’s favor rests upon us when we walk in obedience to Him and the more we have the joy and peace of Christ in us, the more the world begins to change around us.  Praise God for Amy and myself, the Lord used our time in Belize and uses our heart for the world to save our daughter and bring her into His Kingdom.  Now she is being trained up ready to be unleashed to her school, and ultimately the world!

Madeline Grace: Go Forth and Make Disciples of all Nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey all of God’s teachings.  Do not lose heart because you can be sure God is with you always, even until the end of time.  

20160414_171045 FB_IMG_1460201728469 FB_IMG_1461436947871

Praises

  • Madeline’s profession to Love the Lord with everything she has and to obey him in being baptized!  There is nothing better than that!
  • Community for Amy – followers, you know that our biggest prayer has been community for Amy and He has answered it time and time again.  Belize changed Amy so much (mostly for the better).  It is a true blossom to see Amy step out and tackle community head on and to be honest I can learn some lessons from her.
  • More on Amy – Amy has started to volunteer at Salem Pregnancy Center.  She is in the process on completing a 9 week Bible study and then will be unleashed to minister to those who come in to the Center.  She is so excited and totally at peace knowing she’s walking in obedience to how God is calling her!
  • Spring Staff Meetings – We had a great set of Spring staff meetings (it was the 2nd Annual Mustache Miami). I went with the “monkey tail beard”.  Google it if you are not familiar. But it was a great time of celebration and refreshment and preparation moving forward into how the Lord is directing us this summer and beyond.
  • Baptisms at church – we had 14 people get baptized a week ago at church.  Praise God for life-change and a church that hungers and thirsts for more people to be drawn into the family of God.

Prayer Requests

  • Nicaragua – I am preparing to lead a team of about 30 in Nicaragua at the end of this month.  I fly out the last day of the month! Pray for the team, our partner pastor, and our staff as we get ready to pour ourselves out to the Lord!
  • Community for Josh – For my whole life, friends just came naturally. Now with kids it’s harder.  Our church is awesome and bible study is phenomenal.  I think I, Josh, just need to get out of the house some more (more frequently) during the week.  Working from home does have advantages and disadvantages for sure.   Pray for more opportunities and for discipline to arrange my schedule to get out and get into community with others during the week.
  • Healing for a friend – A great friend of mine Tony had some vascular problems and infection and long long long long story really short; he had a below the knee amputation on a leg this past week.  Pray for immediate healing and pain relief for my friend and continued patience and steadfastness for his family!

Friends we love and cherish each on of you. Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, and support.  Please please let us know how we can be praying for you all!

Thankful for our partnership in the Gospel!