Sunday, December 23, 2007

Jeff's Reflection from MTI

It is hard to summarize all that was learned and contemplated during a 3 week training program. It was a great time of preparation for us. Some of the richest times for me were precessing things after the sessions with Tracey. To talk about our hopes, dreams, and fears about moving and all that entails was invaluable. It was great to be able to talk and pray with each other without the usual pressures and responsibilities of life.

The principle that most impacted me is really quite simple and may not seem all that profound. The concept is to simply take care of myself and my family. To pay attention to signs of stress and to take practical steps to relieve it. To make sure that I and we are taking times to simply be with the Lord and are regularly practicing the discipline of Sabbath rest. From my limited experience abroad as well as in ministry it is easy for me to be consumed by my "work", the expectations of my supervisors, and of those around me. As a result the last person I think to take care of is myself. Yet to be effective and to have some longevity in Costa Rica I need to make sure that I am taking care of myself and our family in order to avoid burnout. In a way these are not necessarily new concepts to me. Rather it was more of a confirmation of what I knew deep down inside and permission in a sense to schedule in times of rest and restoration and to make them a priority.

I think at the core of pushing myself and stretching myself to thin is a desire to see God's kingdom extended and to do all I can to see his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. It is easy to think that I am responsible for producing the results and then taking them to God. Rather I need to remember that I am not responsible for the results or for our work being successful. Rather my job is to simply be obedient to what he has called me to do and to be faithful. Part of that is making sure that I do my part to stay healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually, so that I am able to run a marathon instead of a sprint.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Weep With Those Who Weep

The last couple of days have been almost surreal for us at MTI. Most of you will probably already know about what has happened around here. On Sunday shortly after midnight there was a shooting at a YWAM base near Denver, and then after a church service at New Life Church, near Colorado Springs, there was another shooting. MTI is only about 10 miles from the second shooting. With many sketchy details and because MTI is also a mission-related organization, yesterday our building was in lockdown, with police patrolling the area regularly. Jeff, the kids, and I were actually away yesterday afternoon on the Santa Train Cog Rail in Co. Springs and didn't know about the second shooting until we received a call upon disembarking the train. However, on our way back to MTI, we saw New Life Church from the freeway, complete with flashing lights and a search helicopter flying overhead.

When we arrived back at MTI, someone had to open the door for us and we sort of scrambled inside. After a Wal-Mart run for diapers for some friends, Jeff had said, "Let's make sure everything is together in the trunk just in case we have to make a run for it." It was, and we hurried as quickly as we could, not wanting to believe the worst could even be a possibility.

We were greeted by worship songs coming from a group of our new MTI family that was gathered in the common area. Olivia and Sawyer melted into play with the other kids and dinner was served as usual soon after. The normalcy and fellowship uplifted everyone's spirits, and we fought fear in the evening by making gingerbread houses with the children! The festivities distracted us from the uncertainties and questions for a time. We have been thankful that the kids all seem to be oblivious to what has happened.

This morning we had a time of processing and sharing. It happened to coincide directly with the moment that I was hit emotionally with the reality of what happened. And not only with what happened here, but the violence that fills our world. Many of our friends here are heading to places of potential danger--Myanmar, Sudan, China--I don't know that any of us would have picked Colorado to be on that list. It is sobering to reflect on the darkness in each of our hearts. We all have such potential for good and for evil--and freedom. God forgive us and teach us to love instead of hate!!

As a mother, my greatest fear is that something bad will happen to my children. We are given no guarantees in this life except that God is faithful to walk with us in every situation. God is Good. We have no answers, and I grieve for all the moms and all the families today. And I pray that my children will be safe, and that they will choose Good as the path for their lives.

Thank you to all of you who have inquired about our safety and to those who are praying through this whole thing. Fellowship is so sweet.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

In Awe!!

Have you ever been in awe of God's beauty? This morning we awoke to blue sky with trees, mountains and fields covered in a dusting of fresh snow. The God who created this also created you and I. More than that he created us in his image. I can only imagine how beautiful he is, as the beauty we see around us is a reflection of him. God knows just what we need to hear from him each day and today I (Jeff) am grateful to be reminded of his beauty, splendor, grandeur, and that he is God and I am not!


We are in the middle of a training program called SPLICE at Mission Training International (MTI). It is a 3 week program and we are enjoying our time learning about our heavenly Father, ourselves, each other, and getting to know new friends in the same stage of life as we are. One of the things we are learning to do is to live in paradox. This has proven true as in the midst of this exciting time of training we had the funeral for great grandma (see post below). We were also able to spend some time with Jeff's family before the program started as Jeff's parents live about an hour away. We have also found time for some walks in the foothills, playing on the playground, and yesterday visited Focus on the Family so the kids could explore "Odyssey and Witt's End" (their indoor play area, as it was cold and snowing!).

We have covered subjects such as conflict, life transitions, stress, life style choices, building community, sabbath rest, soul care, and entering a new culture. It has been a full couple of weeks with one to go! It has been a time of encouragement and introspection. We are still processing and reflecting on what God is doing in our lives and will post again soon with a window into our hearts. Please pray that God would continue to mold and shape us to be more like him.