April 3, 2014

Obeying God when everything changes.

I'm writing this update from my desk, in a cubicle - a place I never thought I'd be again. I spent nearly six years sitting in a cubicle working in the insurance industry before quitting and moving overseas to start my life as a full-time missionary. And yet, I couldn't be happier.

After months of praying and talking things out thoroughly, we have decided to lay down our dreams of Romania for awhile. This isn't an easy decision, or one that was made on a whim, but one that was carefully considered and truthfully, hurts to lay down.

For five years living in Romania as missionaries was our dream. You could even say it became somewhat of our identity. If you knew us, then you knew we would at some point in the near future move there. We visited there, talked of it often, and had spent years preparing ourselves for our eventual move.

We are not laying down this dream because we could not make it as missionaries. We successfully completed an entire year living overseas. We had enough support coming in to continue living in the Philippines, we continually grew closer with the missionaries there and the Filipino people and culture, our family life grew exponentially stronger, as had our faith. We are also not laying down this dream because of Sam's recent medical conditions with her past two pregnancies. We are not fearful, we fully understand that God has everything in control. Yet we do want to be sensitive to her condition and possibly future conditions. Before our calling to be missionaries, we were called to have children and be fruitful and that is what we want to do.

After spending time in prayer, we believe the Lord has called us to stay in Dallas for an extended time. Whether that means five, ten, or twenty years and then we head to Romania, or even if that means what our idea of missions in Romania is completely different than the way we envisioned it (see Proverbs 16:9 - The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps). We just want to be obedient to what God has called us to do.

When we found out we were pregnant in the Philippines we had begun to pray that a job at church would open up, since we planned on having the baby in the US before heading to Romania. The day we arrived a message was waiting for me to come and apply for a position at Trinity Church Dallas, our home church. I've been working here since the middle of November and I can honestly say that I've never been happier.

It is a painful thing to lay something down that has been on your heart for such a long time. But it is a beautiful thing to know and trust the One who holds our future. So this is where we are. Always in a state of trusting the Lord. We trust that His ways are higher and greater than ours. We will trust Him if/when the times comes to pack up and move. And we will trust Him if/when our "missionary career" looks like something completely different than we originally thought.

Thank you again for praying for us during this time and for the past year in the Philippines. It truly was a life changing experience for us and we could not be more thankful to the people who made it possible for us to live there.



Below are a few questions that we have been asked. Please don't hesitate to ask us anything! We are happy to answer.

Q: What will you do with extra money raised?
A: We are actually still planning a short term trip to Romania some time after baby #3 is here. So all extra funds will go toward that trip.

Q: What will you be doing now?
A: Charles will continue working on staff full-time at Trinity Church Dallas, Sam will be working full-time at home with our 3 children. We are working on getting her a raise. We are also in the process of being placed with Apartment Life, which more or less means we will be urban missionaries in an apartment community reaching out to the people of Dallas.

Q: Can I still give?
A: We are no longer fundraising or asking for support. If you are interested, I know of some great programs and missionaries in different countries that we would be happy to connect you with. Just ask!

February 23, 2014

Furloughs.

Before we lived overseas, I had an idea on what I thought furloughs were supposed to be. You would reconnect with family, your friends and eat at all your favorite foods. It is supposed to be relaxing, almost vacation-like.

The truth is that furloughs are actually quite exhausting. From the moment you land everyone wants to see you, take you out to eat, and hear your stories. There's nothing wrong with that, people just get excited and they should be. Yet traveling 20 hours by plane and then sleeping in some one's else bed or couch for 4 months while trying to cram in as many meetings as you can is physically and mentally exhausting.

If you are a missionary long enough, coming back stateside is not coming home, but just visit what once was home. The country that missionary serves in becomes their home, their solitude, their resting place.

I honestly think we have been busier the past few months than we were our entire year overseas and our return stateside is not even the typical missionary return. We do not have a deadline to meet to a day when return tickets are valid for and yet I find myself exhausted from the little we have done. I could not imagine trying to meet with 40 different people/couples and speak at churches all while living out of a suitcase sleeping in your relatives bed with your entire family living out of a bedroom or two. My respect for missionaries who do this routinely has grown.

So just remember next time your missionary friend is in town, they are exhausted. They are really glad to see you, spend time with you, be back in America, eating real beef hamburgers, but they are really, really tired and need rest and encouragement too.

December 31, 2013

Past Year Reflections

Our family has been back in the States for a little over 2 months now. Living as missionaries in the Philippines seems like a lifetime ago. Had you told me when we boarded the plane bound for Dallas, that we would have lost our third baby, that I would be working in an office full time, and that Romania was a 2015 goal, I wouldn’t have believed you, not for one second.
But here we are.
Typically, around this time of the year people tend to reflect on the past 12 months. And when I look back at our past 12 months, I am incredibly grateful. Grateful that I was able to experience living overseas, work in full time ministry, meet some of the greatest people on the planet, and learn lessons I did not know I needed to learn.
The past year was humbling, to put it as succinctly as possible. Since our return, people have asked for us to share the incredible “missionary” stories that so many who have gone before us tend to share.  Yet our stories do not involve running through jungles communicating to the natives in their tribal languages, or hosting tent rivals where the masses come to know Christ, or outpouring of miracles upon miracles.
No, our stories are about how we came to a country as broken, weak people in need of a Savior, and this is what we were reminded of on a daily basis. I’m still learning this lesson a year later and hope to continue learning this lesson until He returns.
I’ve often equated the first year of missions to the first year of marriage. It’s great. It’s hard. It’s fun. It’s difficult. Like in marriage where two people become one and the trials that accompany getting over our own selfishness, so too does the missionary go through the same trials.
I quickly found out how prideful I am. I found I was incredibly selfish. I was angrier than I needed to be. I was lazier than I should have been. And as each week passed God continued to whittle me down. He continued to teach me reliance on Him.  
I’d like to tell you how awesome of a missionary I was or am, but I’m not going to do that. It wouldn’t be the truth. The truth is that God provided for our family the ability to serve Him for a year in the Philippines and we did. There is nothing fancy about it, it was plain and simple and life changing. The things I learned about myself, my family and my Savior, I would not trade for the most amazing stories and testimonies that anyone else has shared.

In short, I love the Philippines, the Filipino people and the missionaries that continue to work there. I think about our experiences and relationships daily. It truly was a life changing time for our family and it prepares us better for Romania. All four of us look forward to seeing what the future holds here in Dallas for the next few months and into Romania. 

December 16, 2013

Here is what is next:

As you know by now, we are back in the good ol' U.S. of A. Sorry for not updating this blog a little bit more, surprisingly, has been one of our busier months of the past year. We'd like to give you a bit of an update on what is next. 

Before we left the Philippines we found out we were pregnant, and would likely be due around the middle of June. After talking things over with our Romanian friends, we felt it would be in our families best interest to have baby #3 in Dallas, which also meant we would be extending our time in the States. In order to do this, I (Charles) felt like I should work during this time so that we were not living off of partner support. The day we landed in Dallas I received a message about a job opportunity with our home church (Trinity Church Dallas) doing office administration, yet they wanted an 18th month commitment. We spent time praying about this decision, because it would mean that we would extend our stay even beyond the arrival of our baby. We came to the decision to accept the job, we recognized that it would take longer to prepare for Romania (due to needing a car, adjusting to life with 3 kids, preparing for harsh winters, ect.). This would also give us a good opportunity to get to know the staff and church family more, as well as learn the behind the scenes of a church, as we hope to church plant in the near future. 

Shortly after I accepted the job, Sam started to bleed. We ended up losing baby #3 and Sam was admitted to the emergency room due to not being able to stop the bleeding. Thankfully we had people praying with us during this time and we were allowed to return home the next evening and forego any procedures or blood transfusions. You can read more details on the blog post previously posted. 

Since we had made a commitment to work and serve at our church for 18 months, we will still continue to honor that commitment. I could not think of a better place to be during this time, than surrounded by such an amazing staff. We still plan on moving to Romania after our 18 months here in Dallas and all support we receive during this time will sit in our Go To Nations account and it will build up towards transition to Romania. In the mean time we are also planning to take a short term trip to Brasov, Romania to further build our connections and spend time seeing where God has called us. Please pray for us and these next steps. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. We will update this blog soon with a year end recap of our time in the Philippines, as well as more details of what is next to come. So again, please do not hesitate to call us, email us, come to our apartment, or any other way you can think of to track us down. We'd love to talk, answer questions, and see what you've been up too. 

November 23, 2013

The hardest week of our lives.

The weather seems appropriate. The last several days have been gray, cold, and gloomy. This week, we lost our dear baby. Today I would have been 11 weeks and 1 day along in my pregnancy.

Wednesday night we went in for an ultrasound and were told the news that no expecting parent wants to hear. What followed soon after, was something else we never expected.

Thursday evening I started losing too much blood. I couldn't get it to a stopping point or even to slow down. I was soaking through towels in just minutes. Thankfully my 14 year old sister was home with me, Noah, and Ezra. She was able to help with the boys and get me a phone to call my midwife. After telling my midwife of the amounts of blood I was losing, she told me to get to the hospital. At that time (perfect timing), my mom walked in and was able to get me to the Emergency Room, where Charles met us.

Once I was all checked into the ER, I continued to bleed insane amounts and my blood pressure kept dropping. The staff started to worry I would go into shock and that I would need a blood transfusion. They moved me closer to the front to monitor me more closely, since I was considered somewhat critical. I ended up having to be checked in overnight for closer monitoring. They started to get little preparations ready for a blood transfusion, but we were praying we wouldn't have to go through that. The Lord answered our prayers and I did not have to get a blood transfusion.

After almost 24 hours of being hospitalized, I was released to go home and rest so my body can continue to reproduce more blood cells, since I lost so much.

I miss my baby.
I feel weak, tired, sore, and heart broken.
But still, I am incredibly thankful.

I'm thankful that we were back in the US during all of this.
I'm thankful that I was not alone at the house when everything started.
I'm thankful for the most amazing husband in the world, and the greatest mom a girl could ask for.
I'm thankful that the Lord my God is faithful to heal and to comfort.
I'm thankful because I can see how even in the midst of tragedy and sorrow, the Lord was with me and in every detail.
I am thankful.


"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed."
-Psalm 34:18