Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Today's Ponderings...

As of today, we have been living in Haiti just shy of 2 months. It's been an interesting transition. Interesting because things have not looked the way I hoped or even planned. Goes to show that scripture that says, "we may make our plans, but God orders our steps." So true. Our plan was to move here, and we did get here, but it's been different.

Two days before we moved down, we were informed that the housing that was set up for us, at a team house, was no longer available. The entire team house was shutting down so it was literally impossible for us to live there. At first, it was slight panic and a bit of frustration. We realized we'd have to resort to us all, my family of 6 plus my mother and father in law, living together at their 2 bedroom beach house. I was a little more frustrated because it was not what we wanted. Obviously that's little space for what feels like a hundred of us, but at this point there was no other option. Now, I thank God for our crowded time there. We shared a room with our 4 kids for 6 weeks, not counting the few weeks prior to us moving to Haiti when we were traveling.

That crowded, 'in somebody else's space- still' feel was just what I needed to remember to be thankful for what I have. {I had almost forgotten!} My own personal emotions were stirred up because I wanted so badly to just be in my own home, with our own rooms, setting up our own space....how we had been used to in the states and how I felt we just 'should' be.  But I still had no power and control to make that happen! We were there just enough time for me to look around in the surrounding neighborhoods and country to realize, that even the 8 of us living in a 2 bedroom house- was 10 times more than what the people around me had. Not to mention, the beach house was just that....a BEACH house. On the water. Beauty everywhere. The most perfect water with just enough sea life to keep us all entertained, educated and not totally freaked out to be in the water. :) Jellyfish, all sorts of fish including exotic lion fish, sea urchins of all sizes and colors, shells and crabs were all the objects of our homeschool lessons for the girls. Taking kayak rides, snorkeling over the reef, strengthening the girls' swimming skills and eating mangos in the salty ocean were such a joy. In a moment of changing my perspective from annoyed things weren't going as planned, to one of thankfulness, my life became a true exotic family vacation! Loaded with joy, fun and laughter, we couldn't afford that type of vacation if we planned it! I was amazed that my own thought-life seemed to change everything so much.

Now we are in our home in town. About an hour and a half from that beautiful beach house that I love so much. :) I'm blessed to have the freedom to go there often still, but now that I'm in my 'real' house I'm wondering why I was so eager to get into the 'grind of life' so to speak! Why?!

I must say though, our home here is beautiful. God has given me a very nice space to call home and work. Our home is also our team and guest house. We host teams of missionaries and visitors of short term stays.

My adjustment to life here and all the various aspects of our living have definitely ebbed and flowed. Ups and downs in my perspective and attitude have been the norm. Part of me says, 'that's totally expected,' while the Other part...the One who truly lives in me says, 'why? If you know that a thankful and joyful attitude, keeping your focus on Me, will bring you life even in the discomforts and chaos, why do you let it go?"

So this morning, the following is what God spoke to me...I hope that in whatever discomforts you may find yourselves in, this would help!

Life's discomforts and displeasures are miniature in the grand scheme of it all. We believe lies told to ourselves and spoken to us from our enemy that those things will kill us or make us miserable if they aren't changed to what WE think they should be. The reality is though, that they can be really good for us and even necessary for our spiritual growth. They will work for our benefit if rather than complain, mope and throw a little hissy fit about them, we surrender them to God and choose to be thankful and content. Miracles happen when we find contentment. We grow.

A good lifestyle is about perspective and we always have the choice to look on the bright side and operate from a place of gratitude and peace. Those attitudes are freely available to us through the Spirit of God.

The way clean eating is good for the body, clean thinking is good for the soul. A clean spirit by the blood of the Lamb, a clean heart by clean thoughts, and a clean body by clean diet and exercise all make for a very happy, healthy and free person.

Our brokenness coupled with God's kindness should lead us all to repentance at the cross of Christ. That action leads to a healthy and living spirit within us. A living and healthy spirit leads to healthy and fruitful thoughts, which lead to a healthy and fruitful lifestyle. God wants us to live a healthy lifestyle in all areas, no matter our circumstances, by choosing to have a broken and contrite heart before Him. {We can and should live our lives with both brokenness and joy before our loving God}.  We can only truly be broken before God, if we fear Him and recognize our need for Him at every moment of our lives. There never comes even a moment when we don't totally need Him. From that realization springs up WISDOM which is the main ingredient for a spiritually, mentally and physically healthy life.

An excerpt from a book called "Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel" by Richard Owen Roberts talks about God's aspirations for us, being a motivating factor for our repentance. No matter what our life looks like, He actually has aspirations for our life. God doesn't want us to be stuck in the vortex of sin, constantly trying to hide our issues from the One who sees all. HE WANTS US TO BE GIANTS IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING. That statement moves me. Not only does the God of love, show kindness to us on a daily basis in literally countless ways, His mercy is renewed each morning and but He also gave us His Spirit which enables us to live a life of godliness.

All of that information tells me that my inward brokenness and ugliness is the start of an absolutely wonderful life if I come to Jesus with it. I want to be a giant in the land of the living, for sure, but that is going to take my very intentional involvement. My option to CHOOSE joy and gratitude and love will most definitely have to be the way I go if I want growth. And it happens day by day, moment by moment. You gain spiritual wealth and strength mostly through difficulty. And all the while, we try to avoid difficulty at all cost....we're missing out big time when we run from it rather than embrace it. When you're wronged, rather than grumble about it, let's actually OVERLOOK it and even seek joy in our position. By doing that, we partner in suffering with our very own Redeemer! And partnership on that level breeds close friendship. Wow. I want that.

So- now I finally take a breath and pray sincerely that God would sustain me with willingness. Willingness to surrender all my discomforts, and displeasures and pain. All my sufferings and negativity...that primarily, He might be glorified, and also that I may attain a glorious lifestyle on this earth. Something worthy of the cross and of eternity with Him. That although I'm nothing but a pitiful weakling without Him, I might be a giant in the land of the living and a light and help to those who are dying.

Friday, October 25, 2013

One Month In

Hello from Haiti!!

So we've been in Haiti just over 1 month and thought it would be a good time for a little update. First of all, I'll say that it's still totally surreal to us that we actually live here now. No matter how prepared mentally I thought I was for life here, it's still been quite an adjustment. We're all doing well, but as it goes when things don't go as planned, it can be a bit of a shock to your system. :)

So as you may know, our first month here felt like forever as we waited to find and move into our home. The wait was important because this house has to function not only as our home, but also as a team and guest house, and also space enough for home church and homeschool! This was also a slow process because 'we' had to buy appliances for the kitchen as well. So several big expenses were put out all at once. I say 'we' because my in laws {Theo's parents} are graciously and generously putting funds toward helping us get set up and running. This is an incredibly huge blessing and we are so thankful for them and the Lord's kindness through them. The Lord led us to a spacious and beautiful home in Port Au Prince at a decent rent, so we prayed and took the lease. We've been in our new house about 1 week and have already had 6 guests with us! I'm praying that's a sign of team and guest house success. :) We host and welcome long and short term missionaries, missions teams and other visitors for a small donation.  We are quickly learning the ins and outs of a guest house and are incredibly thankful and excited about our staff.

Celi is a sweet and happy girl who is our cook who prepares dinner each evening for us and the guests. {we do breakfast and lunch on our own}. Roslin is another sweet and godly woman who does our housekeeping. Our girls just love Celi and Roslin even though they literally can't speak to them at all except for maybe 2 phrases at this point! When they arrive at the house each day, they're greeted by all 3 girls with big hugs and basic greeting in creole. Theo and I are really striving to keep a humble and loving attitude toward them although they are paid to help run the house. Before they are employees, they are sisters in Christ and we want that to be the thing they see most from us.

 The other part of our work is the family business, which is construction. Theo's dad has been building here for decades and now that we're here, Theo is blessed to step into a partner position with his father.   Literally 2 days after we arrived, Theo began working 6 days a week on the construction sites. He is out supervising the crew and checking the work being done...studying and learning this side of the business. Before we got married, he was the one with the hammer in hand along with the crew but now he's getting the one-on-one apprenticeship/on the job training opportunity.  He's really enjoying it and adjusting to it along with everything else. 

The girls are doing great. Stella and Naya are eager to start homeschool which will hopefully happen next week. Olivia turns 3 next week and Galia will be 4 months old next week. Galia coos and 'talks' and rolls over and is just such a happy baby....so long as she's being held! We've found her weakness is being put down!! ha! Her sweet smiles makes us want to hold her all the time anyways, so it's not so bad. :) We also will officially hold our very first church meeting here next Sunday...the first Sunday of November. I'm so so excited and trying not to have expectations, but several people have asked about it. We haven't been advertising it or anything but seems the couple people who know about it have spread the word and people are interested! Please pray for that situation as it's the closest thing to our hearts and know it's our main assignment here.

The Lord spoke clearly for us to 'feed the sheep' as we did in Mexico and we know that while we do that, we are to work toward freedom from personal support raising. That is why we are pursuing so much work right now...to get an income that's sufficient for our family to live and do what we're called to. As of now though, we still need your support financially and prayerfully to get ourselves going. This transition is massive but hopefully by the new year, our work will be providing enough income to be completely off personal support raising. At that point though, any financial support that is given can/will go to our non-profit organization called 'Christians Concerned For Haiti.' We are partnered with a wonderful local Haitian pastor and we currently have a boy's home, a girl's home and a clinic in a province called Cannan. No one lived in this desolate area until the earthquake in 2010 and thousands of people set up the tent cities there after they were displaced. The children in our 'homes' are true orphans, meaning they do not have either biological parents and are now personally cared for by pastor and his wife. They are not up for adoption as the Lord has given them their family. They all go to school and are cared for as in a typical family, with chores and homework, etc. They all go to church together on Sundays and spend their extra time learning about the Lord, just as we do with our children. We currently provide funds for the 56 kids and are actively praying and seeking new ways to practically support and serve them with our personal time when we have the opportunity. Our cook that I mentioned above, Celi, grew up under pastor as a mentor and excelled and was able to go to culinary school after she graduated and now has a great job cooking for our guest house!

Obviously as time progresses, we'll all get into some sort of groove with life here and schedule and everything and we truly covet your prayers for that. The Lord has really spoken to Theo and I on so many subjects, from 'care for the poor,' 'pray for your children as they adjust to life here,' 'keep your marriage a priority,' 'learn to adjust to life in close proximity to in-laws,' 'joy and peace,' 'keep trusting Me,' and countless more things and we want to just keep some focus through it all. We thank you all for your prayers which have brought us peace and comfort during difficult times and when we have felt like there was no grace to deal with certain things with a completely new life set up amid in a 3rd world nation. Your prayers have given us perspective which is priceless! We really love you and appreciate your quick prayers to the Lord on our behalf!  PLEASE keep in touch and let us know how life is going with you and how we can pray for you if needed. Let us know if you feel led to support us monthly or to give a 'special one-time donation.' {also, if you think of it, please pray our van is released to us asap. It just arrived a few days ago, but is still with customs.} Thank you and lots of love to you!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

We moved!

Finally, we made it to Haiti! It was a long journey leaving Mexico and making our way across the country, having a baby and finally landing in Port Au Prince. It was so incredibly wonderful to connect again with so many friends along the way....people who have become family to us. To get to hug and catch up with so many really lit up our hearts!

Our travels took us from Ensenada, up the coast to central California, across to Colorado, then to Kansas City, then the bulk of our stay in Illinois, which is where our sweet Galia Elizabeth was born....then a night in Kentucky, a bit in North Carolina with our closest friends, a night in South Carolina, a week in Orlando with family, and a week in Ft. Lauderdale finalizing everything for the move. It took 6 months from when we first began packing in MX to finally landing in Haiti. God has given us so much grace to go with the flow as best as possible during the transition and is continuing to give the grace as needed.

The girls are so happy to be with their cousins that they haven't seen in about 3 years. Stella only just turned 6 so they were all very young the last time they were together. Naya was barely 2 and Olivia was just a baby. Its incredible how much the Skype calls over time have helped create a friendship and a craving to be together.

We've only been here 1 week and Theo jumped right into work when we got here. He's been learning the ropes of the construction business his dad began and will be partnering with him to run it all. We got to visit a couple of the sites and are excited with his new role here.

We found a house to rent hopefully beginning in October. We'll be setting up home and shop there asap to welcome teams by November. My {Melissa} mother in law and I will be running the team house while Theo will be in construction management with his dad. We also hope to set up house church as soon as we have a place to sit. :)

The girls and I have been hanging out at my in-laws house by the beach which is absolutely beautiful. We've been in the ocean every day in what feels like an exotic vacation! Of course the moment we drive outside the gate, I'm reminded we're definitely living in a 3rd world country. Seeing lots of poverty and difficulty is causing a bit of culture shock, which is to be expected. 

The slower pace of life at the moment is allowing for a lot more time in prayer....asking for guidance in our new life here...asking for friendships...asking for protection for my girls' hearts...and for His hand to cover us with all the unknowns. We're also praying our few belongings and van make it to Haiti in 1 piece and sooner rather than later. Prayer for work to pick up enough to provide consistent income for us and to set up a new home. Sufficient funds to support us while we get set up and in the groove of life here. Prayer as we venture into homeschooling as soon as the box of curriculum arrives...so much to lean on God for.

And this morning I was reminded through Ann Voscamp's "Selections from 'One Thousand Gifts' Finding Joy in What Really Matters," to keep my attitude fixed on grace, thanksgiving and joy. I'm so grateful for the reminders the Lord gives to remain in Him. It's what truly gives peace and calm amidst seeming chaos and craziness.

We covet the prayers of those who love us. And know that we have you so close to our hearts and pray for you as well. We'll continue to update as life changes come along!

Friday, July 26, 2013

We're Heading Out!

                 Summer 2013            

Hi Friends, the time has come! We’ve been praying and waiting on the Lord’s guidance for us to continue our journey to Haiti and here it is. We have been so blessed to stay with dear friends/mentors in Illinois this summer. The couple of months that we’ve been here have been a real resting time for me {Melissa} and the girls. And it’s been the perfect place to be while waiting for the birth of our 4th daughter.

Galia {ga-lee-a} Elizabeth was born on June 29th! Her birth story is wonderful and her delivery was the quickest and easiest by far. The Lord was really with me and the entire thing was actually enjoyable!  She weighed 7 lbs 2 oz. and is such a gift to have with us! Galia is a Hebrew name meaning ‘The Lord has redeemed.’ I also was blessed to have my mom fly up from Puerto Rico to be with me. She was there for the 3 other girls’ births so it was awesome to have her there again. She is my ‘professional prayer warrior’ in the delivery room while Theo is my superhero and I couldn’t do it without him! Ultimately though, the Lord really gave me confidence and control over every minute of it {which was only 45 from start to finish- no time for meds- again!!} and REDEEMED the birth process from one of fear and anxiety to one of awesomeness and delight.

Stella, Naya and Olivia have grown so much this summer and they are really enjoying having another sister. They are all wonderful helpers and definitely like to smother Galia with hugs and kisses. J

Stella turned 6 in June and such a fun and spunky girl. She is practicing her reading skills and getting ready to do first grade homeschooling when we arrive and settle in Haiti. She is enjoying learning basic math skills as well and is quite the artist. She really enjoys drawing and coloring.  

Naya is  4 ½ and learning preschool and kindergarten skills. She is our tender and nurturing one. She’s very sensitive and considerate of others, especially when hurt or in need.

Olivia will already be 3 in a couple of months. She’s having fun learning along side her sisters and loves to snuggle! Since Galia was born, Olivia seems to have grown into a giant and is no longer the baby. She’s enjoying being one of the ‘big’ sisters now!

The girls have gotten to ride the horses, swim in the big pond in the yard and learn to collect eggs from the chickens. {Naya is the animal lover and natural ‘farmer girl’ out of the 3!} They also sat with us for a little while to snap green beans before being canned yesterday. We’re all getting a real country living experience here! So fun!

Theo has been working on house building sites doing different things in the preparation process for the houses to be move in ready. He also has been working here in the wood shop as well as all around the property {where we live} doing all sorts of maintenance and upkeep. It’s been more hands on labor work than he’s had for a couple of years and it’s been really enjoyable for him! He enjoys the movement and appreciates being tired after the day’s work. J Of course, being tired takes on a new meaning when you have a newborn baby and are getting a lot less sleep! Theo also has had the opportunity to teach on Sundays here at the house church which has been a real blessing since our main calling in this season of our lives is to ‘FEED THE SHEEP.’  So he has been able to minister and fellowship with the guys on the house build sites, and able to minister and fellowship with us through the Word on Sundays! He’s been busy!

Our time in Illinois has given us the chance to save a little money to help our transition and to pray and plan for our big move. We’re thankful for the opportunity to not be rushed into this new life in Haiti, as well as a little time to adjust to being a family of 6!





So our plan is to leave Le Roy on the morning of August 12th. We’ll make our way to North Carolina first to see our dearest friends Lee and Sarah, as well as possibly  a friend we met through Theo’s trip to Columbia in January. We will also meet with Rich Stevenson, director of the Malachi Network, and former professor and director of the Apostolic Missions School in Kansas City. Rich led the team Theo was on when they traveled to Myanmar in 2008 and

we now raise our financial support through his organization,

The Malachi Network.

We will then make our way south into Florida, possibly making a couple of stops along the way to see friends and family. We hope to visit and hug many friends from the Harbour Church as well when we get to Ft. Lauderdale.

We will ship our 12 passenger van, loaded with what’s left of our belongings, to Haiti and then fly from Ft. Lauderdale to Port-Au-Prince on September 12TH.  

We will be living and working with Theo’s parents in Port-Au-Prince and you can go to

to see the guest/team house that we will be living in and helping facilitate. Click on “Grace Center Guest House” to see a virtual picture of the place and to get some info. Theo will also be working in 3 more arenas.

First, he will be working with his father in his construction/building business. As you may know Haiti is really on the up in terms of rebuilding the city. Many homes and structures are being worked on since the earthquake in 2010 destroyed so much of Port-Au-Prince. Ted {Theo’s father} has been a business man and builder in Haiti for many years and is busy with new projects.

Secondly, Theo will be working with “Christians Concerned for Haiti.” It is a foundation started to assist other organizations and people who desire to work and serve in Haiti without the hassle or complexity of the ‘red tape’ of the government. Being registered under Christians Concerned for Haiti enables you to come in legally and registered to work with the desired area of ministry or service.

Thirdly, we hope and plan to plant another house church, much like Baja Fellowship. This is really at the core of our hearts. We’ve been doing ‘house church’ for many years now and know the fruit it bears in the hearts of the people. We love to see Jesus transform hearts and minds to His likeness through the Word and fellowship with one another. We miss the wonderful people that make up Baja Fellowship in Ensenada, the house church in Kansas City, and we’ve enjoyed and love the people at the house church here in Le Roy. And of course, we absolutely love and cherish the ones that introduced us to the house church model at the Harbour Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Getting to experience Church in these different places has shown us and given us a deep love and desire to help grow believers this same way!



1.     Monthly support until we are able to attain enough monthly income from Theo’s work.

2.     Funds to help cover moving and set up costs in Haiti.

3.     Peace and security from the Lord for our daughters during all of the transition.

4.     Safety and health throughout all the travel to our final destination.

5.     That the Lord would be glorified and exalted through our family.

6.     Grace and strength as we begin homeschooling on our own, learn French and Kreyol, and adapt to life in a 3rd world country. Lots of change!!!


We appreciate your prayers more than you know. Thank you for thinking of us and bringing our needs before our gracious Father in heaven. He is so kind and faithful to hear us and answer! If you would like to partner with His purposes for our family financially, let us know!

You can send tax deductible financial support via THE MALACHI NETWORK at www.malachinetwork.org


Click on DONATE and you’ll be taken to the page where you can scroll down to our names and continue from there.


We are also raising support specifically for the move on www.gofundme.com/steinhauerstohaiti

and have a goal of raising $15,000 to cover the transition and set up in Haiti.


We’d like to thank everyone for your love and encouragement during this time. The Phillips Family for the incredible generosity and support throughout the years and especially this summer. All those who have supported us financially and prayerfully throughout the years, you have helped us get to this point and we’re forever grateful! Our family who has loved and tracked with us from country to country….thank you for hanging on for the adventure of our lives! We love you all!


We can be contacted via FACEBOOK, by phone at (217) 550-4755 or by email at


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Another Adventure

So by now we're already half way across the United States. We're staying with good friends in this beautiful Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Getting out of mexico was a bit rough on our family since Naya, for the first time in her life, was struggling with excess gas and 'stuff' bad enough that she was in extreme pain and even vomiting. This was literally the day before, and 2 days into our trip. So we decided to take her to the emergency room in San Diego to make sure nothing severe was happening with her. $700 later and nothing to help ease her pain or pass the gas, we continued our journey. Thank God it all eased away from her within the next day or so. We drove up California to Dos Palos to visit/meet Theo's uncle Bika and aunt Judy. Theo hadn't seen them since he was in elementary school and I obviously had never met them. While we were still on the west coast, we felt we should go and see them, which turned out to be an amazingly right move. God revealed many things about the Steinhauer family to us, and in particular, Theo gained a new aspect of his identity. The relationship God produced in such a short visit is astounding and although there was always that blood relation there between uncle and nephew, now there is a true family/emotional/spiritual and even father-son relationship there. The things God can do are just amazing.

After that, we began the journey across the Mojave Desert which was very interesting. Barren land...nothingness for miles and miles. Then Naya and Olivia both came down with a funky stomach thing which was giving them "diarrhea in the desert." This made for ALOT of stops along the road for that day and a half. Theo and I learned some lessons in patience and compassion there. :)  Turns out, thankfully, it wasn't a stomach flu or anything, but the anti-parasite medicine we had given all the girls as we left Mexico were kicking in and doing their job. I have given them those meds before with no side affects at all, so we didn't realize this would happen. Talk about bad timing. On our way out of Mexico, our good friends Nic and Michelle gave us a little potty for the girl in case we needed it, and boy did we really need it! So thankful for God's provision!

Now at present we are looking at the most beautiful view of the Rocky mountains. It's been so good to stop the long hours of driving and rest here. Not only is it absolutely beautiful, but Theo is getting to work on a ranch for 2 days with a close brother {Zach} and earn a little income to help out with our needs. It's good "manly" work out on the mountains....outdoors...working with his hands. I know he's been craving this for a bit! Not to mention he gets a little testosterone going! Poor thing has been stuck in a van for days on end with all us girls...even our dog is female! Getting blisters on his feet from walking the ranch for 7 hours straight and cutting up his hand yesterday did him good. He was almost boasting about it, not complaining!

Hanging out with the Woods has also been such a blessing for the girls and I. Me hanging out and catching up with Whitney and the girls playing with Nina and sweet little Elsy has been fun. I'm so thankful the Lord has given the girls more friends to play with during our rest stop for the week.

Next, we'll be heading to Kansas City where we're SO looking forward to seeing more long time friends. We'll be staying with more dearly loved friends, Mona....Sean's mom and his sister Holly. We just love those people and are so blessed that they offered to host us while we're there. My girls love Mona and Holly too which is that blessing again...truly is like family. Hopefully we'll have time to catch up with all the friends we have there before we make our final stop in LeRoy, Illinois for a couple of months.

The Phillips' have been a family that are truly family to us. They've loved us since before I even had Stella and have taken us in so to speak for years. Theo and I just love and cherish them and their invitation for us to stay with them until Galia is born was truly a Godsend. They are such a nurturing, loving and disciplined family so we're really excited to park it there with them for a bit. After recovering a few weeks from having the baby, we plan to continue down to Florida before flying to Haiti.

We are currently praying through the different opportunities that we know of regarding work and serving the Lord in Haiti. We know for sure we are supposed to be there for the next big chapter of our lives, but the actual roles we'll play are still being revealed to us by God. We have a few ideas, but know there's a bigger picture that we're not aware of yet. We're so happy to be passed the fear of the unknown and are truly beginning to walk forward when He says 'GO' whether or not we have all the answers lined up. It's the journey of developing our faith and trust in Him, and it's done us well thus far to surrender and trust Him.

We know we'll need lots of prayer coverage while transitioning to life there. It's such a different world in literally every aspect, but I'm excited to go and see what the Lord has for us to do there! Of course my first responsibility will still be loving God, my husband, and my children. That alone will keep me busy no matter where on earth we are! But in terms of assignments...it'll be interesting to see what His plans are!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Not like Mary

Today is our final day in Ensenada, Mexico and we're getting ready to leave. It's been a hectic few days, but the Lord is so kind and faithful to meet our needs as they come. Seemingly last minute, we got a big 12 passenger van that fits all of us as well as our belongings. It's such a blessing and we know God orchestrated the deal for us. Even more than the sweet deal on the van, God did something eternal...He restored a relationship. I won't go into details here, but I'll say that bitterness was turned into love in the midst of working out the van thing. Incredible! Only God.

Well, I really wanted to write, because this morning as I had a few minutes in the Word before the girls woke up, I opened up to Luke 2....the birth of Jesus. Lately I've been thinking of Mary and how toward the end of her pregnancy with Jesus, her and Joseph had to make a long trip traveling across the country, and I thought for just a moment, how I could sort of relate to her in that way. That was until this morning when I read the account in the Word.

Verses 6 and 7 say this.... "And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them."

Now as I pondered that, I realized that I can't relate to Mary AT ALL! I have a van tons of belongings for my family including some nice clothes and blankets for my daughter, Galia Elizabeth, who isn't even born yet. We have a huge box of coloring books, school supplies and toys that we're able to bring with us for the other 3 girls, besides a suitcase full of their clothes. I'm even able to bring things that I didn't think would make the trip, like my sewing machine.

I also began to think about all the friends we will be stopping and staying with along our journey across the country and what generosity and hospitality they are offering us before we've even left Mexico. And I thought about the place where we will be for me to deliver the baby in Illinois. I've said many times that it's the "ideal" situation for us, and I still believe it is. I was extremely humbled and sobered and sad and happy all at the same time when I realized that the Lord came as a baby and was born and laid in a manger because there was no other place for him and his parents. He was wrapped in pieces of material while I have 'nice' clothes and for my baby. Even when we get to Haiti, there is already a crib, highchair, swing and tons of other baby gear and house furniture waiting for us there. I'm humbled literally to tears at the thought of my King's generosity and love for me and my family, all while He had the lowest of options for himself. My journey doesn't compare to Mary's, and really, I'm thankful. I'm thankful that although we're not owed anything good at all in this life, we have been given so much good...even beyond our necessities, He gives us so many comforts. I'm thankful that we're learning to not be greedy and have the mentality of entitlement and rights, but He shows us how to be humble and tender...like Himself.  God is so good and generous. I love Him.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Beginnings

Isaiah 41:10

"So don't not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - NIV

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not look anxiously about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." NASB

Yes, I wrote that verse out in 2 different translations, because this verse is a big deal anyways, but it  especially is right now. Our family is at the end of our journey here in Ensenada, Mexico and we're about to start another adventure.

I'm currently 28 weeks pregnant and the Lord is suddenly transitioning us out of here. I say suddenly because although we've knew that we would end up in Haiti at some point, we just weren't expecting it right now.  We were praying about where in the US we could go to deliver our 4th baby girl for several reasons including practical/personal choices as well as legal/document issues for the baby.  As plans were moving forward for us to end up in Florida to have her, several possible opportunities came up for us in Haiti. At first it was a little confusing and frustrating because we were just trying to figure out baby logistics and then come back 'home' to Mexico. We weren't feeling any sort of movement or transition, but obviously God's ways aren't our ways!

This isn't the first time that the Lord leads us in this way....relatively quick, timing wise. But we're learning how great it is and so beneficial for our history with God, to trust Him when he says 'GO.' And He's so gracious in teaching and leading us. Never pushy, but rather speaking just loud enough for us to know it's His voice....and we can choose to be obedient and trust, or not.  And it's ok and even good, to ask for confirmations when He's guiding in certain direction. So, only by His grace have we chosen to be obedient to His lead and confirmations. There's an awesome history of being led by our God on an incredible journey so far.

It's a bittersweet thing for us to leave Mexico. For almost 2 years, we've been here facilitating and leading a home church. It was completely non-existent when we arrived. We only knew 1 couple. And now, we're surrounded by an amazing community of believers, who we have such love for! Every Sunday, between 20 and 40 people show up at our house with something to share for our potluck. After the singing and teaching, we all eat together and are 'family' together. We joke, laugh, talk and pray while our kids play together.  I know of blood relatives who do the Sunday dinner thing where they get together each Sunday to keep the family bonds going. Well, that's exactly what has happened with us only in the name of Jesus! :)

Baja Fellowship is a family of believers who are all in Mexico for the same reason...to serve our King. Different ministries are represented and the people come from all over the globe, but God has brought everyone to this place at the same time and gave us each other for this season. I believe the Lord's purposes are so much bigger than our little human minds can comprehend, and wouldn't be surprised one bit if many of our paths crossed again in the future. For now, we leave our love and blessings here while we journey on.

So at this point all we know is that we're headed for Haiti! There are several things we're waiting on including where exactly we'll land to work and live. {Nothing big, ha!} Currently, we're hoping specifically for a job at a school and also discipleship work with a friend. Work with Theo's dad is sure to happen as well, and of course we get all giddy at the thought of facilitating another house church! We're praying all along the way, that our hearts won't be anxious and that we'll continue to trust Him despite not having concrete answers yet. I'm in 'nesting mode' with our baby due soon and everything that's happening is totally opposite of what I feel should be happening in the practical sense. Our house is becoming more and more empty of everything and I'm moving away from the people I've been closest to for the last 2 years. This is the bitter part of bittersweet.

 It seems the Lord is moving us out of Mexico fairly quickly, but not taking us directly to Haiti. We will be driving across the country, making several stops along the way to visit friends and supporters. The trek, including stops will take an entire month, at least, and it's looking more like we'll have the baby in the states rather than Haiti, but we'll see how the journey goes.  No matter what, we just want to be where God wants us and to be flexible to His leading.

It's been interesting to learn the balance of "responsible planning" and the actual acts of obedience to God and faith when He says something. Not that God would necessarily strike us dead if we didn't follow His lead, but oh how we would miss out on His goodness and true adventure! It comes with a cost though. Not having all your 'ducks in a row' can come off as out of order or irresponsible to some, but to us, learning to heed the voice of God and just obey Him and trust Him rather than try to justify why we shouldn't are way more important and wise than having any ducks in a row. This IS having our ducks in a row.

Now, I say that in small part to remind myself that this truly is the better way to live!  Trusting that this wild ride of a life we live is best. {Because who wants good when you can have best?!} In no way, shape or form are we saying anything about perfection. I'm saying we've asked that God would lead us into His perfect will for our lives and to give us the grace to follow His lead through it.

Now this is where we're at right now. We're planning on leaving Mexico in about a week and a half...around April 10th. {3 weeks ago we knew nothing about moving away!} We will stop in Colorado with good friends for a couple of days, then move on to Kansas City, MO for a few days as well. After that we'll head to Illinois to stay with a family that is family to us. After IL, we'll head down to Alabama, Georgia, then Florida. After all that, we'll fly to Haiti. The time spent in each location is what we're working on now. It's not just a single over night stay in any of these places because we have 'closer than a brother' relationships across the country. We couldn't imagine passing them all by when we have to get across the country anyways. We're seeing it not only as an opportunity to nurture these friendships, but possible opportunities to raise funds before our big move and lastly to rest and have some family time before we welcome a 4th little girl into our brood and start life in Haiti. We're excited and so grateful for God's kindness.

If you've ever done a local move from 1 house to another, or if you've ever had a baby, or ever changed jobs, you know all the details and things you have to think about with each of those. So many little things that actually matter!! Well, we get to experience all of those things at once! Plus some. Three little girls excited to have another baby with us, driving across the country in a somewhat unreliable van,  ultimately moving to a 3rd world country with an extra long road trip of sorts along the way...getting rid of mostly all we own only to start again in that 3rd world country {housing/furniture/car, etc}...and needing to come up with ALOT of money asap!

That is why I wrote out the verse {twice!} that I did in the beginning of this post. I need the reminders not to fear. I need to remind myself of the amazing history I have with the Lord so I can continue to trust Him. I need His grace and I need your prayers.

That's the scoop on us! :)
Lots of Love & Blessings...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Galatians 5:6b

    The second part of Galatians 5:6 was used powerfully by the Holy Spirit the other morning when I was doing the dishes. I was thinking about someone in my life that I'm sort of having a hard time with.

"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." 

That's what the Lord said to me about the situation. Um... ok, but I do love this person so my faith is being expressed, right? Well, sort of. But the thing is God looks at the thoughts and intentions of the heart, not only outward things. And in my mind, where only He can see, I wasn't being so loving.

 I "love" this person so much but there are certain aspects of character that make me pull back and think not-so-loving, and rather critical thoughts about them. And it's hard to speak about it because I think everyone may have a person {or more than 1} that they can relate to like this, but I don't want to make it seem OK on my part, because it's not. It's not OK to not love, if you claim Christ as your Lord and Savior.

But I'm learning that 'love' is a funny word that is used so carelessly these days. I mean, I can say 'I love my husband' and 'I love pizza' in the same conversation and although most would assume I actually do LOVE my husband and I just really enjoy pizza, we use the same word for both so the power and intensity of the word is becoming dull and doesn't give it's full effect.

So what does love really mean? Especially in the context of Galatians 5:6? How do we show our faith in God via loving people? Is it just being nice to them? Anyone can do that- even non believers are nice to their friends. Isn't it more than just saying the words 'I love you' to a person?

As the Lord showed me this verse directly in context to the person I was not being very loving to {in my own thoughts, not outwardly!}- I had to ask myself a hard question...

'Do I actually, really, truly LOVE this person or do I have a sentimental or emotional connection to them so that I say and maybe even think that I love them, without real love being there??' Because I can care about a person to a certain level and not actually love them. But what happens when you've used the term 'love' for so long and realize you don't actually have a genuine love for them at all?

Now- let's get something clear- I DO have a genuine love for this person, AND that sentimental thing I was talking about. So things can get a little grey. And I do believe that emotions are good and are given to us from God to be blessed by and controlled properly. But when we're run by our emotions rather than genuine characteristics that we receive by God {such as His love} then we get into problems. Self-control of our emotions is of huge importance, and the Word talks to us about worshiping God in spirit and truth {John 4:24}...which means our whole lives {emotions included!} should be lived and led by the Holy Spirit and in truth. So basically I'm just saying- worldly, human love is different than godly, Holy Spirit love. And the Spirit teaching us how to love His way, is a learned and practiced thing.

So my next question to the Lord was, 'Then how do I love the people that you've given me to love?' What do I do? Especially since I'm geographically so far from the majority of the people I know? And He said,

"There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends. " John 15:13

So we should die for people if we really love them...yes. And here's how. Our lives in Christ are to be more and more selfless as we go on. For the most part, most of us aren't literally going to die for any of our friends, but for those that we say we love, we should and can take time out of our self focused lives and pray for them. And I mean that in a consistent and concentrated way, not just a quick prayer because they got the flu one time and asked for a quick recovery.

Romans 8:34 says "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us." 


1 Peter 4:8 says "Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other,  for love covers a multitude of sins."

For me, managing my household, including raising 3 young kids and gearing up for a 4th, plus serving the Lord outside our home is a very very time consuming life. But if I say I love a person, it's power comes when I MAKE TIME to come before the King of all Kings on their behalf, just as Jesus does for us. To pray for His love to consume them...for His protection...for His transforming power in their lives...for their families... their health... and even when we see sin or faults- for the Lord's mercy on them. There are countless things we can always be praying for and that's true love.  And believe me, it truly takes a laying down of my life to actually pray for others that way and not just to tell them I love them or that I'll be praying for them and instead letting myself be consumed with my own life and interests. And amazingly enough, I notice that for those who I do consistently pray for, my genuine love for them grows! It's the Holy Spirit love at work and not just my human affection love working.

I don't want my word love to be weak, like saying 'I love pizza' and just a careless or sentimental thing. I want my word love to be attached to the power of God. Let the pizza and other things get their proper word  such as 'I like pizza' or 'I enjoy ______.' And let's love each other like we mean it. Let's pray!

Monday, January 14, 2013

I've been delivered from death!

Sounds like an extreme title for a post, but it's the absolute truth. No, I didn't have a physical near death experience...but I definitely was having a sort of extended near death spiritual experience. The experience is called laziness. I wrote about it in my previous post about how a few weeks ago the Lord had mercy on me and had me make some changes in my life. They were seemingly simple changes, but they've had huge implications on what my daily life looks like.

Now, let me explain that for years, I've struggled with anxiety and fear of impending death to my husband, children or even myself. I was absolutely sure that I was about to experience a traumatic/death experience with one of these people that's the closest to my heart. I can't count how many hours of sleep I've lost over it. Sometimes, the thought would quickly enter my mind and I had absolutely no control over it and would just burst into tears!  The day would be beautiful...all was well...nothing negative happening, and suddenly the fear would strike and the panic was on. This was truly torture and there was no sensible explanation for this irrational fear. And trying to explain it all here, wouldn't even do justice to the extremely depressing and agonizing emotional roller coaster I was riding for so long. I'm a generally happy person and I recognize the countless blessings in my life which made this even more bizarre.

I noticed that over the last year or so, it seemed even worse than usual. Asking my husband and close friends to pray for me because of the fear in my mind. I even believed that God may be the one preparing me for some sort of death. How do you prepare yourself for something like this??! I had no comfort or resolution to my issue.

But I prayed and begged God for help. I couldn't live like this for the rest of my life!! I couldn't bare the thought of so randomly and so often being consumed with thoughts of a death sentence to any one of us at  any given moment. I believe this constant tension and mental stress played a part in my lack of digestive health as well! I was a mess mentally and physically. And I love Jesus for crying out loud! Why was I dealing with this?!

So this is where my laziness comes in. Now, I have 3 kids. Very young kids at that, so I don't mean laziness as in 'sit on my couch' and literally do nothing all day every day. The laziness I'm referring to is being far less fruitful and productive in my role and responsibility as a wife, mother and general home maker that what should have been happening. I was spending incredible amounts of time on social media and online 'creativity' sites. My time was for sure, consumed with tending to my 'friends' and getting ideas and creative short cuts to tending to things in my house. The problem is, I wasn't tending to my husband and kids OR my home! I had lots of strategies and good ideas, but little was actually being done.

These are some of the scriptures I would pray to God regarding my situation with fear and anxiety...

Psalm 4:1 "Answer  me when I call, O God who declares me innocent. {only by of the blood of Jesus} Take away my distress. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer."

Psalm 4:7-8 " Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; with deepest awe I will worship at your Temple. Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. {I was my own enemy!} Tell me clearly what to do, and show me which way to turn."

So as December 2012 was coming, I was noticing how much time I was actually wasting being 'productive' on the internet and unproductive in my real daily life. Now, although I'm a total work in progress and God is faithfully continuing the work He's begun in me, I can definitely say that I'm in a place of surrender to the will of the Lord over my life. My true desire is to serve and follow Him with everything in me. But I was blind to this  area within myself. No matter who said what, I couldn't see it and it took the Holy Spirit to remove those blinders and let me see this.

December 20th I had a moment alone with the Lord. No kids were around and I was with Him through the Word. I felt this quiet and gentle 'invitation' from God to get off of Facebook. Not just for a day, but to really turn it off and let Him fill that time instead. So BY THE GRACE of God...I simply and gladly accepted. I deactivated my account right then, knowing that I should go with the grace while it was there and not delay.

Then right after that,  I began reading the book of Hosea. If you're not familiar with this book of the Bible, it's in the old testament and it's a story of the prophet Hosea. A man who loved God and the Lord instructs him to marry Gomer...a prostitute! {gah!} This was to illustrate to the Israelites {God's people} how they were behaving to Him. They were His, yet they were prostituting themselves away, and destruction/judgement was imminent if they didn't repent and turn from their ways.

So in the most tender of ways, on what I consider a miraculous day....the Lord moved on my heart and made me willing, then spoke to me about how HE saw my situation. The laziness I was recognizing in my own life was actually me prostituting my time and attention away from all that the Lord had given me....including my time with Him! My responsibilities to my family and home are GIFTS from Him that I was treating like second hand "I'll get to it later" type of stuff. The laziness was for sure taking it's toll and since I hadn't recognized and repented from it, destruction and judgement really was on it's way! There was legitimate and biblical explanation for all the anxiety on my mind!

Not only was my family suffering from my lack of fruitfulness and responsibility with what I was given, my relationship with the Lord wasn't what it could have been and I was literally at the door step of some sort of death that would consume me constantly. The mental anxiety and fear I was struggling with for so long was the literal result laziness in my life! Who knew?! {Believe it or not, I have the first verse underlined in my Bible, but obviously didn't have it underlined in my heart.}

Proverbs 21: 25 " The desires of lazy people will be their ruin, for their hands refuse to work."

Proverbs 18:9 "A  lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things."  {ouch!}

So here I was...convinced that 'ruin' was so near, and it actually was! And not because the devil was attacking me, {as it's always to easy to blame the devil for difficulties or trials}, but it was the Lord Himself letting me experience that mental struggle all because I was a lazy person! Wow. That's intense to realize. But even more, it's to realize God's incredible Love and mercy on my life. My Father knew that if He didn't discipline me in this way and allow me to feel the effects of my sin, that I may never become desperate enough to cry out to Him and thus, change!

The laziness might have stayed with me forever to wreak havoc on my family and to never be able to glorify the Lord with my life! The primary way of me glorifying the Lord is serving my family and home. And if the serving part was left out, then what was I doing?! Nothing worthy of giving Him glory! Ah, how sad.

So, as the new year came around and the Lord began speaking to me more and more about how different my life should look, a concern was that it would take so long for these changes to actually happen in me. I was encouraged that I could actually see these issues within myself, but discouraged about how different I wanted to be and how long it might take. But in God's kindness and power, HE is the one changing me, not me changing myself. If we could all just snap a finger and change ourselves, wouldn't we all?! But the willingness He gave me, plus His love has made big changes within weeks of the invitation to get off social media and not be lazy. This is HIS transforming power! And as my laziness has wore off and fruitfulness has come on, another thing has come on....mental PEACE! The solution to laziness, besides a new mindset which comes from the Holy Spirit, is just getting up and doing what you have to do. It's not a matter of doing everything perfectly, but a matter of pursuing excellence while you actually DO the thing! Easy enough?! No wonder we've seen such changes in a matter of weeks....not the years I was expecting to have to wait to see a difference in myself. I'm just finally doing what I have to do, and how great it is!

I noticed how I've been sleeping better and have a tangible difference in my mind and body. I'm not feeling the anxiety and fear of impending 'ruin.' I feel free and I feel LIFE.

Thank you Jesus, I've been delivered from death!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A new year and a new me...

December was an interesting month for me...nothing really crazy or interesting happened, but toward the end of the month I was beginning to feel the Lord stirring somethings up in my heart. I wasn't sure what it was all about but as I was doing my devotional one day, I felt the Lord just 'invite' me to get off facebook for a while. I was gentle but clear and clearly from God, since I do enjoy my social life on facebook. And that was the problem...I enjoyed it a little too much. I was spending quite a bit of time scrolling through people's pages, looking at pictures, and genuinely trying to keep up and be in touch with my almost 1,200 'friends' there. Yes, it was practically everyone I've ever known, haha! {not really, but maybe most of them!}

Yeah trying to keep up with about twelve hundred people took time...time I didn't actually have because I have 4 very special people that needed that time and they weren't getting it! So the offer came for me to just get off FB and see what kind of benefits I would reap. So Feb 20th I deactivated my account. It was monumental for me considering what a normal and very regular part of my day it was....and right before Christmas and New Years?! What timing!  My husband would offer me to get off the computer and read or something once in a while, but I was way more interested in seeing who was pregnant, saying happy birthday to so and so, keeping up with old friends, etc. So when I just deactivated the account, it was quite the happy shock to my man. And surprisingly, I felt really good about it, too.

Now, just 3 1/2 weeks later, we are ALL enjoying some serious benefits! Who knew that putting my priorities in line could be so amazing?! {duh} So here are a few things that have changed in my own personal life so far...  

I read to my kids. I cuddle with them. I find I have more patience with them {which is seriously needed since they're 5 1/2, almost 4 and 2!}  I'm excited to make meals. My house is pretty darn clean. The dishes are pretty much ALWAYS done. I'm actually caught up with laundry {but we all know, that never really ends}. I *see* my husband again. Oh- no, not that he was gone before, but I was too busy with all the other 1200 people to talk to him. {And I see him with a twinkle in my eye, which helps even more!} Yeah it was pretty bad. I'm getting into crafting again. I feel more motivated to exercise. And I've been doing my *daily* devotional AND 'Extreme Woman Makeover' 30-day Challenge....and I'm praying WAY more! This is serious stuff! Imagine everything I just mentioned, but the opposite. Ok, so maybe not 100% opposite, but opposite enough, which is bad.

So, the 30 day woman challenge thing has really put some major biblical language to what I was doing and all the changes I was making in my lifestyle. Being lazy scared me half to death since I was totally being lazy and I see laziness within my own family back round and I knew/know that I would have to be attentive and purposeful in fighting that in myself. I mean, between Facebook and Pinterest, I couldn't even tell you how many hours were wasted literally EVERY single day. And this isn't a bash facebook and pinterest post, if anything a "wow, I had no self control" post...and I still think they both definitely have their benefits. But for me, my family and I were suffering from it being so accessible rather than reaping the benefits. I also knew that I had to quit 'cold turkey' or I wouldn't get such a handle on it the way the Lord and I both desired. So only by the grace of God was I willing to just say goodbye in an instant. Actually I didn't even say goodbye or give any sort of explaination about what I was doing. I just did it. And I felt bad at first, but now I see the wisdom of God in having it that way... I'm sentimental! I might've been totally convinced out of it. So, thank you Lord...for your grace and mercy on me.

I'm praying on whether or not I'll ever get back to the facebook world or not, but as considered it a few days ago, I realized I'm not done reaping the benefits of this quiet and undistracted time.

I pray for courage and willingness to let go of ANYTHING that distracts you of your priorities in life. Ask God to show you if there is and if so, He will give you the grace and peace to move forward in getting things into line.

Love & Blessings,