Lenten Devo 3: “In Heaven”

**John and I were tasked with writing some devotionals alongside Ruth for the Lenten season. Our theme for these 40 days is The Lord’s Prayer. This is my first one and is about Our Father “in heaven”. It fell on Day 8 of this series.**

In Heaven

Reading: Revelation 22:1-5

If someone told me there was a place on earth as beautiful as that description in Revelation 22, I’d probably think, “I’ll believe it when I see it!” I mean, just imagine: a crystal clear river alongside a tree with 12 different kinds of fruit, all of which are available to eat every month (surely there’s no tree like that on this earth?). There’s even a throne in the middle of the city, no need for a lamp because there will be no night, and God will provide the light! The only reason I know I can believe a place like this exists is because I can trust what the scriptures say to be true. I know our God is big and can create a place more beautiful than what our human words can describe.

Besides the beautiful imagery of heaven, my favourite piece of this scripture is the part about how the healing of the nations will be represented by leaves on the tree. What a beautiful thought! In heaven, peace will abound.

Peace and healing among the nations is something I confess I do not pray for very often. It seems too big a job for someone small like me. But then I remember that our God is BIG!

How can we promote healing of the nations on a small scale in our daily lives? For me, it looks like healing my relationships.

French author, Jules Renard says,

“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.”

What are some ways we can catch a glimpse of heaven here on earth?

If you’re like me, maybe you think about heaven sometimes. Let’s also think about healing, and the magnificence that is God wiping away our tears, our pain, our mourning, and our sorrow. (Rev. 21:4)

Blessings,

AC

Today let’s pray for the leaders and young people who attend drop-in on Wednesday nights.

Lenten Devo 2: “Our Father”

**John and I were tasked with writing some devotionals alongside Ruth for the Lenten season. Our theme for these 40 days is The Lord’s Prayer. This is John’s second one and is about “Our Father”. It fell on Day 7 of this series.**

Reading: Romans 8:15

Our Father

There is so much to unpack in this verse, but we’re just going to focus on the fact that God is our father. The Greek word for “adoption to sonship” is a term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted heir in Roman Culture. In other words, when Paul writes about our adoption to sonship he is saying that we are now fully able to say that we are heirs with Christ, because of Christ. 

The fact that we are able to cry Abba, Father is nothing short of amazing! A beloved child uses this as a term of tender endearment. This is the same as my small son looking up at me and saying, “Daddy, I love you”. As a father I get a small glimpse into the joy God feels when he calls us his children. 

One of my favourite parts of the day is in the evenings when I am putting my son to sleep. I will read the Bible to him, pray with him, and lay down with him for a while. It’s during this time that we talk about his day, and I always try to tell him how proud I am of him. This time of intentional relationship building brings us closer to each other every day. 

How can you personally carve out time for God?
How can you be intentional about it?

Relationship with God is similar to a relationship with a friend. You build a deeper relationship with that person by spending time with them. Start today, pray for God to help you build that relationship deeper than ever before.

JC

Today, let’s pray for the children in your area and your family.

Lenten Devo 1: “Our Father”

John and I were tasked with writing some devotionals alongside Ruth for the Lenten season. Our theme for these 40 days is The Lord’s Prayer. This is John’s first one and is about “Our Father”. It fell on Day 6 of this series.
Reading: Isaiah 64 v 8
Our Father

These are the beginning words of Jesus when teaching his disciples how to pray. What does this mean? The very suggestion that we are able to talk to God is a humbling phenomenon. Even more humbling is that the Creator of the universe takes it one step further and asks us to call Him father. Essentially this relationship is like the story of the young boy and his boat:

A young boy spent weeks working on a wooden toy boat. He carved out a mast and attached a beautiful white sail. The boat was without a doubt the most splendid little toy boat that had ever been seen. One day when the weather was nice, the young boy took his boat for a voyage. He had just placed his beloved boat in the water, when a gust of wind took the boat far out to sea. The boy cried and tried to catch his boat, but to no avail. Heart broken, he went back to that spot every day to sea if the tides had brought his boat back. Each day he trudged home empty handed, until one day he as he was trudging by the shops on his route home he spied his boat in the window. He jumped for joy and ran into the shop exclaiming that it was his boat. The shop told him their price, which he gladly paid, and as he took his boat from the shop he looked at that boat and said “little boat, now you are twice mine as I have made you and paid for you”.

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8

God, our Father created us, loved us, and then when we were lost He paid for us. Lets walk through each day knowing we are God’s beloved children. How do you think your life would change if you truly believed this? 

Blessings,

JC

Today, please join us in prayer for the teachers in our schools.

Sunday (Monday) Confessional

I confess that I remembered to write this yesterday in the morning, and then forgot about it until I was about to fall asleep.  I chose falling asleep over getting up and writing it, so I apologize that sleep came first in my order of importance.

I confess that Abigail and I went out with a group of friends, without our kids, for the first time since being in Northern Ireland.  Pastor Ruth came over and watched our kids for us.  I confess that we had an awesome time, and we are so thankful for the opportunity.

I confess that I had the opportunity to preach a sermon yesterday.  I spoke on the part of the Lord’s prayer where it says “Give us this day our daily bread”.  It was a strange sort of dichotomy in my heart, where on one side I was grateful to preach, and on the other I felt a sort of “O Lord what sinner am I to speak to others?”  I confess that my prayer was for God to speak through me, and I understand that the only reason I am able to preach at all is because I have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

I confess that on Friday some friends took us to W5, which is the coolest children’s museum I have ever seen!  Afterward, we had a delicious Northern Irish dinner with them.  I then went to play squash with a different friend.  I confess that I am still sore three days later, but I have a new found love of squash. I confess that I feel like I should be able to not work out for a long time and then play a sport and feel fine the next day, the same way I would have felt in high school. I confess that’s not how it works anymore.

I confess that everyday we are here is a blessing, and I feel like we are getting to live more and more into God’s mission.  I confess that every activity is as it should be for the Christian. Ministry.  I confess that Jesus Christ is my Saviour (like the British spelling?). I confess that I am daily falling deeper in love with God and His people.

I made my confession (a little later). Now go make yours!

“I’m Warming Up!”

We are settling in to life in Millbrook. We’ve learned how to work the heat in our house, grown accustomed to pulling a cord to start the shower, and figured out how best to dry our clothes without a dryer. We’re now familiar (enough) with the Celsius degrees on the oven and can do currency conversion in our heads. We’ve discovered what all the doors in the homes are for (keeping the heat in!), and we’ve been educated on how to make a proper cup of tea. We’ve also noted the many differences between the English we speak as Americans and the English spoken here in Northern Ireland. I’ve never been more aware of how often I say “you guys”!

Hosea is doing better than we are, already incorporating words like biscuit (cookie), pram (stroller), trousers (pants), and making sure to specify that we are in “Northern” Ireland, and not Ireland. He says things like, “Is this a Northern Irish bus? Is this Northern Irish rain? Is this what people in Northern Ireland eat for breakfast?”

Our new Northern Irish friends have been apologizing for the “miserable” winter weather, but it’s actually much MUCH colder in Kansas City right now! I think the difference is that in KC we are used to running the heat all the time, but here in NI our heat clicks on for two hours twice a day. So, it feels colder here than you would think even though it’s only about 45 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside. For the first week or so, it was so cold when we would get out of bed and Hosea just kept saying, “I’m freezing!” Once we got better at working the heat, lit the fireplace, remembered to put on sweatshirts and make tea in the morning, Hosea would exclaim, “I’m warming up!” My heart was so happy to hear these words come out of his mouth, because I want him to love this place.

Like Hosea stated, we are indeed warming up, but not just physically. We are warming up to life here, working on diving into new relationships and trying to gain some semblance of routine. We’ve left everything we ever knew in Kansas City and, while these two cultures are not drastically different, everything is new. Even something as simple as taking out the trash took some getting used to! (One week it picks up trash and recycling, and the next week it picks up food scraps >>to be made into compost! genius!)

I could also add that I’m “warming up” to life with two kids. I will admit that it’s been difficult at times, but easier because John is a huge help. Neither of us have full time jobs here, but rather the random evening events and meetings during the day, so we are both home a lot and able to share the parenting responsibilities.

At any rate, we are warming up, and we love it here <3

John with Hosea and Moses, walking through Ballyboley forest (Feb 15)
John with Hosea and Moses, walking through Ballyboley forest (Feb 15)

Sunday Confessional

I confess that today has been crazy. Good for sure, but crazy.  We woke up, ate breakfast and walked to church. I confess that church was a cathartic experience for me today.  I needed some time where I could lift up my hands and praise God with other believers.  Today was the new member service at Millbrook, and also baptism Sunday.  There is something wonderful about going to a different country and culture and participating in activities that are so similar to what I would have been doing.

I confess that I forgot Valentine’s Day. Or at least I didn’t do anything for Valentine’s Day.  Part of me wants to say I’ll show her my love everyday like that, but I still think its fun to get my Abigail a gift or in someway show a new expression of love.  I confess that what I would really love is to take her out to dinner, just the two of us. I have hopes that I’ll be able to do that soon, we just would need to find someone to watch the kids. As we settle into this community, I think there will be plenty of willing friends.  Perhaps in the meantime I’ll surprise her with a gift.

I confess that Moses has been having trouble sleeping. That’s not entirely true, he sleeps just fine if one of us is holding him, but will only sleep in twenty minute stretches by himself.  I confess that this makes me tired.

I confess that we are going to attempt to toilet train Hosea this week. I confess that even if it doesn’t “take”, I don’t really want to put him back into cloth diapers. I’m growing weary of washing diapers all the time, and he seems to get his pants wet more often than not.

I confess that I love my wife more than I ever thought I could love another person.  She teaches me so much about life.  I confess that I love my boys in an equal, yet different way.  My boys teach me so much about my own relationship with God, and for that I am rather in awe.  I confess that the redemption of Christ brings me to my knees, and I confess that I am thankful beyond words.

I’ve made my confession, now its time for you to go make yours.

A New Type of Adventure

I have a lot of cool friends, and many of them are currently traveling the world. Because I also have a “thing” for travel, I enjoy checking out their photos on Facebook from time to time. Recently I was looking through an old friend’s photo album when something caught my eye. This person was wearing the EXACT same backpack that I have! Now, this isn’t a rare occurrence. It’s one of those Osprey day-packs that Backwoods used to give away on your birthday (if you spent $50 at their store that year). Almost everyone I know has that backpack! By looking at these photos, I was immediately struck by how great this bag is for adventure. I’ve taken it with me on countless trips, from several visits to Mexico and Haiti and all across the U.S. too. In fact, it even made it on our most recent trip to Northern Ireland, but this time with a slightly different role.

It’s a diaper bag.

Now, part of me is thinking, “Man! What a waste of an awesome hiking pack! It has all these great pockets, has survived so much wear and tear, and has a lot of life left in it for more travel adventures.” And the other part of me is thinking, “What a great new use for this backpack! It’s the perfect size for everything I need for a day out with my boys.”
And I’m letting the latter part of my thoughts take over because, you know what? I AM taking this backpack on new adventures. And I’m not talking about traipsing all over the UK and Ireland with it, I’m talking about the adventure that comes along with being a parent.
Like all adventures, this one has its shining (and not so shiny) moments. Unlike other adventures, this one has me more emotionally invested than ever. There aren’t enough words in this world for me to describe the love and joy in my life that has come about because of these two little guys. And boy, is it the biggest adventure of my life or what?! Every day I am challenged in new ways, my patience is tested, I make mistakes, and I learn new things about myself and how to be a better mom.

So, Osprey backpack, thanks for not being too “choosy” with the adventures you go on. You used to hold a camera, Clif bars, water bottles, and an extra shirt… but now you’re just perfect for diapers, wipes, snacks, and an extra set of clothes for the boys.

Thanks for taking me on great adventures. But more importantly, thanks for joining me on the GREATEST adventure of my life, mommyhood.
<3

brothers

Sunday Confessional

I confess that we have been in Northern Ireland for a week now.  This past week has been very low key.  We had a few activities, but mostly our only responsibilities were to get settled, and get over the time change.

I confess that we made it down to town. Larne is the town, and we take, according to the timetables online, a 13 minute (though I think it was less) bus ride.  The bus dropped us off near some stores and we did some grocery shopping, and got library cards.  It was a good little trip, and it got the boys out of the house. I also confess that we ate lunch at a smallish restaurant called The Upper Crust because we missed our bus by five minutes and had two hours for the next one. We had mince pie, chips, and salad.

I confess that I have loved this past week.  I am incredibly proud of the way our boys seem to be adapting to life in Northern Ireland.  Hosea, once he warms up is making some fast friends. I think we’re all making fast friends.  I am struck by the outpouring of generosity towards us.  It seems that we really did not need to bring any bags of stuff with us, as all of our needs have been exceeded.  I confess that many days I come before God in prayer and I am at a loss for words.  I don’t know the words to thank him for His incredible providence.  It seems fitting that for lent our church is going to work through forty days of prayer and the sermon series will revolve around the Lord’s prayer. I confess that I really stand in awe of our mighty Father who provides everything all the time.

I confess that I am thankful for the redemption of Jesus.  I confess that I am thankful for the family that Christianity creates.  I confess that I feel as though the Lord has filled me up, and I pray as Paul did that he would pour me out like a drink offering.  I confess that every last drop of me would be best used in service to God.

I’ve made my confession, now its time to go make yours.

January 2015 Update

I’ve decided this will be my last monthly update because they are SO LONG. I’ll be updating more frequently and also John’s started blogging more often so I think we’ll be covered 🙂

This month continued our 12 Days of Christmas Celebrations! We made spiced chai cookies on Epiphany because traditionally, people would eat spiced foods on this day to commemorate the gifts brought to Jesus by the wise men.

canvas1 canvas

I attended my last MOPS meeting and had to continue saying goodbye at my last Make & Take meeting, lunches and dinners with friends, and our last trip to our favorite farmer’s market. We also had an evening to ourselves and went ice skating!

kris iceskating

We received word this month that we needed to raise $4,000 more than we had originally thought. Yikes! We had halted our fundraising efforts because we were almost fully funded, but then started them back up again. I was so nervous about raising that much money in 4 weeks but it has been coming in, and we are so grateful. I was reminded by God that I am not in control (even though I always try to be) and that HE is the one orchestrating all of this! His providence has been so evident to us during this month and funds are coming in ways that I had never expected!

One of my yoga instructors, who I’ve grown close with throughout this year, offered to teach a donation-based yoga class for me. I was amazed at the people that came and was so touched by the kind words they shared with me. We had pregnant moms, moms with babies, moms with toddlers, and seasoned moms (who left their older kids at home). It was awesome! They raised $268 for us! That afternoon was so meaningful to me because these are women I’ve spent time with weekly throughout the year and we’ve been able to advise and encourage one another in our motherhood journeys.

We also had the unexpected opportunity to speak at one more church service this month! Victory Hills Church of the Nazarene in KCK invited us to share our calling and about the 365m program with them on a Sunday evening. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people and visiting with my Great Aunt and Uncle who are part of this congregation. Pastor Howie Schute is new and has only been at Victory Hills a couple months. He was a missionary for almost 20 years in parts of Africa and was very supportive of us and understanding of the funds we had to raise. He challenged his congregation to give generously, and they did! We continue to be shocked at how fully God is providing for us.

We started packing up our stuff at the beginning of this month, slowly filling boxes and taking them to Catholic Charities or my parents’ house for storage. At some point in the last week or so we started moving all of our furniture and ended up with a home looking like a bachelor pad. We had no dressers and our mattress was on the floor, and I admit I kind of liked this setup! Hosea had been doing fine with the transition until we moved out our dining room table… he continues to state, “I’m looking for the table and I can’t find it! Where’s the table??” I’m not sure why he seems so attached to the table, other than that it’s the table we’ve had since before he was born. It was my great-grandmother’s, then my grandma’s, then my mom’s, then mine, and I’ve now passed it along to my cousin. tableSome of my friends threw me a going away party! It was great to see them as I had been fairly absent at our recent playgroups/nights out because of all our preparations to leave the country. They made deliciously healthy foods and we chatted for a long while 🙂 The relationships with these moms have been so important to me throughout the past couple years! We’ve shared so many highs and lows and I’m sad to leave behind this supportive community.

momsgroup   We had one last trip to the zoo as a family 🙂 We were trying hard to get in family-time before our classes started up and we were gone all day! The boys did great with my mom and John’s mom, but we also tried to have uninterrupted time with them in the evenings. Yaya took them on a few outings, and Narna did a lot of crafts with Hosea! In the evenings, John and Hosea loved playing in big boxes together.zoocraftstrainsboxplay

Starting around mid-January we had a few days of orientation, and then two weeks of intensive module classes at the seminary. The first class was called Short-Term Missions and was incredibly insightful! We learned a lot about best practices for people going on short-term mission trips, what to do, what NOT to do, and how best to form long-term meaningful partnerships in order to really see lasting change in both parties. The second class was called Ethnography, which taught us about how to research aspects of a culture by asking open-ended questions. For this class we get to do an ethnography project where we choose a topic and then ask people in our host culture questions about it. I think I want to research something birth related, I’m excited! The seminary also hosted a “sending service” during the chapel hour one day. This was a wonderful service where our families & friends came and prayed over our cohort along with the seminary community. ginny sendingservice

We had a great opportunity to get to know everyone in our cohort during these past two weeks. We took a field trip to the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum during our Ethnography class and had a great time. It was an unusually beautiful day in January! Among the 10 of us, we are traveling to Northern Ireland (3), Ireland (2), Scotland (2), Australia (2), and The Philippines (1). We will continue our online courses together throughout this year and be able to share experiences, ideas, etc.

nelson1  cohortnelson

Friday night we had dinner with John’s parents, brother, and grandmother for one last goodbye. Yummy Chinese food!

narna_grandadgrandad nana

Then we stayed up late packing, repacking, and moving things from bag to bag. We woke up to a few more donations in our account and it turns out we are FULLY FUNDED!! Praise God for bringing in $4,000 in 4 weeks! Saturday morning we had breakfast with my parents and Gabe, and then we headed to the airport! Yaya did NOT want to say goodbye.

firstwatch

lightning  bags airport yaya

Sunday Confessional

I confess that saying good bye is difficult.  We said good bye to my parents and grandmother on Friday.  My grandmother, who we call Nana, looked at me after giving her one last hug and, after saying I would see her in a year she said, “John, I’m 88 years old.  There aren’t too many more days left for me.  But we will meet again in a better place.”

I confess that I found my throat getting tight after she said this.  On one hand my heart was heavy at the potential thought of never seeing Nana on this side of glory again, and on the other hand I was feeling excitement and joy that I will get to celebrate with her for eternity.

I confess that we boarded the plane with a very excited 2 1/2 year old.  Hosea and Moses both did amazing on all three flights. We actually had people complimenting us on how well they were behaving.

I confess that we have made it to our new home, and we have been welcomed in with arms wide open.  Our mentor stopped by and dropped off some food and gifts from members of the church. We are excited at this point to get past the jet lag, and on to really being able to be “fully” here.

I confess that I am humbled by the faith of others, whether it be my grandma, or those at Millbrook with arms wide open, or those who have followed God to partner with us so that we could come to Northern Ireland.  It seems that every day now, I come before God lacking adequate words to thank and praise Him.

I confess that I serve a God of acceptance, and everyone deserves to know Him.

I’ve made my confession.  Go make yours.