A Faith Adventure

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Josie and I got married in the fall of 2011 (November 5th).  At the top of 2012 we decided to start trying to get pregnant, as we were both 34 at the time and excited about a potential family.  2012 was a great year for us.  We dated each other, and got to know each other.  But at the end of the year there was no pregnancy.  When 2013 began, we asked people to begin  praying with us for a baby.  The year came and went, and still no baby.  As we headed into 2014 we asked more people to pray. During our Rwanda trip that year in April our brothers and sister there prayed over us, crying out to the Lord on our behalf, and asking the Lord to expand our family.

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Shortly after returning from that Rwanda trip I was in a meeting when I received a text from Josie.  It read, “I probably should have spoken to you about this first, but I signed us up to be a ‘safe family’.”  Safe Families for Children is an organization that mobilizes Christian families to open up their homes to the children of families that are going through a crisis.  Josie’s text made me smile, and I was completely on board to begin opening up our home to children who needed a safe place.  About a week later we received a telephone call from a sister from church.  At that time she was a teacher at a local junior high.  She called to ask us if we could house one of her students, named Juan Pablo, for a weekend.  She explained that his parents were in a tough spot, and that he needed a stable place to stay “for a weekend.”  We could tell by the end of that first weekend that this wasn’t a short term assignment.  During the first couple of weeks of Pablo being with us the Lord gave me a verse.  Psalm 68:6 says, “God settles the solitary in a home…”  Josie and I both had peace about Pablo living with us long term (He’s now been with us for almost 3 years).  God used the gift of Pablo to teach us and/or remind us that He is the provider of family, and He can provide children in many different ways according to His good purposes.

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Although Pablo’s arrival helped lift some of the discouragement that we were feeling, we still had a desire to have a baby.  However, at the end of 2014 there was still no pregnancy. As 2015 began, we continued to enlist prayer partners and talk to different people about our heart’s desire.  In addition, we both went and saw doctors to ensure that there was nothing physically/biologically that was preventing us from being able to get pregnant.  2015 came and went, and still we were not able to conceive. When 2016 arrived, we weren’t really sure what to expect.  We were open to adoption, but unsure as to how we could afford adoption.  Then in April of 2016, while I was taking Pablo’s siblings to school, I received a call from Josie that she was pregnant!!  I couldn’t believe it!  She couldn’t believe it either (she took 5 pregnancy tests that day).  Fairly early on we decided to let people know so that they could be praying for us.  Although we knew that miscarriage was a possibility, we wanted people to be journeying with us and lifting us up in prayer throughout.

During the fall of 2016 God generously provided both the laborers and the supplies to convert our garage into a bedroom for Pablo, and to convert the room across the hall into a nursery for Jaye.  Time and time again throughout the fall, God provided in unexpected ways.  Jaye was due on December 30th.  Yet she didn’t arrive until January 10th.  Both her birth and her life are miraculous.  When she was first born I couldn’t talk for about 10 minutes.  I was overcome with emotion and in complete awe of what God had done.  I still am.  It is surreal to be a dad (of an 18 year old and a 6 week old)!

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Yesterday as Josie and I were riding in the car together, she asked me if I was ready to make a run at baby #2.  The question made me smile.  We both would love to have more kids (7 potentially :)).  I’m not sure what He has for us in the year ahead, but I know that He provides, and that He writes beautiful stories.

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Looking Back & Moving Forward

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Last year I created this tool to help me look back and reflect on the previous year, and to think and pray intentionally about the year ahead.  I’m working on mine for 2017 as we speak, but thought I would share the questions with others.  I’m going to try to revisit this every month this coming year in order to check progress, adjust, pray more intentionally, etc.  Hope this might be helpful to you as well…

Continue reading “Looking Back & Moving Forward”

Slow Down

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At the end of June and beginning of July I was with a team in Rwanda. This was my 3rd time on this trip. We help coordinate a pastors conference with a network of pastors there called The Pastor’s Family Fellowship. For 5 days we are with them – worshiping, praying, teaching, learning, sharing meals, getting to know one another. It’s a rich time. One of the things I have been struck with on each of my trips to Africa, and certainly in this most recent one is their emphasis on prayer and fasting. These pastors regularly pray and fast together. They seek the LORD. They believe God for big things, and they trust God for basic things. They are trusting God for things that we in the West too often take for granted.  They are living a lifestyle of prayerful dependence.   Continue reading “Slow Down”

A Faithful Encourager

Mike Thompson(Mike pictured here w/one of his grandkids & his wife of 50 years, Sharon)

My first memories with brother Mike happened when I was a high school student at Paw Paw High School.  During that particular season of my life, my family and I did not attend church very often.  When we did attend, I can remember him being very intentional about coming up to speak to me.  He always asked how school was going and how the sport I was playing at the time was going.  As a shy teenager who didn’t know many people at the church at that time, his intentionality always encouraged me.  During my years at Albion College, my visits at EMC again were few and far between, but his interested and encouraging posture towards me continued. Continue reading “A Faithful Encourager”

5 Years Later

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(On the road – August 22, 2011)

5 years ago on this day I was part of a 2 vehicle caravan (my van and a moving truck) en route to Richmond from Chicago.  It was a huge move and transition for me.  The night before (August 21, 2011) Josie and I had gotten engaged.  She helped me make the move, along with my parents, and we had some extra adrenaline and excitement to help us make the difficult three day drive.  I also think the timing of the engagement was another evidence of the grace of God in that it helped soften the departure (I would grieve leaving Chicago over the course of 2012, but the engagement helped with the final day). Continue reading “5 Years Later”

A Special Place & Special People

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(L to R:  Joseph, Pablo, me, Josie, Meshaq, & Simone)

Our recent pilgrimage to Montana was our 15th annual gathering in Bozeman.  I can’t believe it’s been 15 years.  I’ve had the privilege of being on every trip, and the Lord has used each year’s experience in different ways in all of our lives.  As I have reflected and shared with others about this year’s trip, I realize that Montana has become a special place to me and the people of Springhill Church and Sunshine Gospel Ministries have become an extended family to me.

Although I grew up in the country, I have now lived in urban environments for 15 years.  I have grown to love cities – the activity, the noise, the diversity, etc.  However, I love retreating to places like Montana – with less noise, less activity, etc.  The beauty of the scenery in Bozeman – the mountains, the rivers, the sky itself – refreshes and rejuvenates me. I love being on the river (event when I don’t catch fish). I love hiking there, and taking in the views at different heights.  I love the sound of the water – whether it be a water fall, or a rushing river.  I say this every year, but I would love to spend time in Montana when there is no schedule or planned activities, just to take everything in and have some solitude in that environment.  Continue reading “A Special Place & Special People”