Monday, September 28, 2009

Prayer, powerful stuff!

Greetings! in the name of our Gracious God,

First let us say once more how constantly we are blessed by the prayers, love and offerings we receive from so many. We love each one whether we know the face and name or not.

We have traveled many unknown and at times treacherous paths to get to the place we find ourselves now. This is true in a physical sense and no less in a spiritual and emotional sense. Probably a statement that most could make. Countless times it would have been so much easier to just give in and give up, or so it seemed in the midst of it.
Thanks be to God Almighty that He doesn`t give up on us when we feel everyone else has - ourselves included.

How awesome it is that we serve a Lord Who stays with us in the very lowest and most difficult times in this life with His hand outstretched just waiting for us to look up into His gaze, rest our hand in His, and let Him show us His way through to the other side of the trial.

2002 was one of the most difficult years we faced in many ways. It was also one of the most positive. It was the year that we truly and completely put our lives in God`s hands and began to fully trust Him for our daily bread.
I almost said here that "we had no other choice"... but we did! We always have a choice! Give up or keep going. Trust Him for What and Who He says He is, or don`t. Take the easy way out, or the right way.

When we found ourselves at rock bottom with no place to look but up - we did just that. We asked God what He wanted us to do next, and this time we really listened for His answer. He answered quickly. Nothing like any of the options we had considered as real options. First we talked and prayed together. Then with family. Friends. As we shared what He had planned for us we were met with shock, disbelief, one obstacle after another.

Go back to Japan.... as missionaries... are you CRAZY???

It`s what God has asked of us. Wouldn`t you go if He asked you?, I just couldn`t.

But, God asked. How do you say no to God when you know it`s Him?

We said yes.

God said, "Go!" "I`ll take care of the rest." We believed Him then. He has proven Himself true so many times since.

This is certainly not to say that since answering with a yes we have awakened to every new day with never a concern, doubt, trial or temptation. There are many. And yes we still try to figure out the way to get through each one when we really see no way. After exhausting our minds and emotions with everything we see as a possible option, we always determine that on our own it can`t be done so we turn it over to God and reaffirm our faith, belief and trust in His promise to us that He`ll take care of the rest.

To date He hasn`t gone back on His promise. He never will. So long as we do our part.

Admittedly we`re not always certain just exactly what "our part" is. We step out with what seems right, and if it isn`t it usually becomes apparent pretty quickly. So we listen a little closer and try again.

Finances seem always to be a concern for us. Our income here is minimal. Living expenses are high in Japan. Money is never an `easy` subject. It`s a vital part of this life none the less.
Since coming here to do mission work in 2003 our income hasn`t increased much. Our expenses have. Home and utilities, groceries, education expenses, transportation, taxes and the `extras` we try to do where we see need.
When the totals are tallied each month for income and expense there is always a concern as to how we`ll cover everything. Yet when all is said and done the bills are paid. The unexpected happens and we have no clue how to cover it. We don`t! God does! Time and again He has awed us with his perfect timing and provision for what for us was the "unforeseen".

Today we learned that our "miracle van" - meaning He provided it for us in ways we could never have worked out on our own! just when we needed it!! - has breathed it`s last. The repair cost would be higher than what we payed for it so definitely out of the question. Our repairman has been amazed for the past year that it has held up as well for as long as it has.
A vehicle is a necessity for us here. Church and class activities on many days of the week are impossible without a vehicle We know this. We know God knows this. He knows our need is immediate.

God loves to hear from His children. Prayer is a most powerful tool. We believe in the power of prayer and so we ask that you pray with and for us that this need for a vehicle be answered.
Thank you from our humbled hearts.

Our God is awesome!!!

May His love, grace and peace fill your lives.

P.S. Just had to add this... our neighbor (not a Christian) helped us out with the translation from the mechanic(not a Christian). He told her that it was so lucky that we found the trouble at home and not while driving because it could have caused the engine to freeze up, the wheels lock and possibly a terrible crash. She agreed we`re a lucky family! We said, not lucky - blessed! God is our Shepherd watching over us always!

1 Peter 4:12-13, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (NIV).

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I cannot believe it`s already been two weeks since my last post!!

Life just seems to fly by these days... which has positive and at times not-so-positive aspects.

What a blessing to be able to be so busy! To have the ways and means to do so much with and for so many! God is so great!!

I really do have loads of pictures to sort through and pick some to share, and I will get to it.... for the moment though I just didn`t want you to think I`d forgotten all about you who peek in here now and then to see if we`re still kicking.

We are ! ;-}

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Several thoughts

I know... I know! I do pretty fair for a spell and then just disappear from the blog world. No long list of excuses, it just happens.
I do have lots of pictures of several different events to sort through and pick out some to share... and I will... I hope soon ;-}
Summer season always has a slow down in actual classes for John with all the family and school and work vacations, yet also seems to be a surge in activities for his students that we normally lead. And as you know if you keep up with us at all, any time we're not otherwise scheduled we're usually somewhere watching Zack play basketball. That schedule is crazy in the summer months!
We're all so thankful that Bo came home from Iraq safely. Though the reason for his early return is not a happy one. Bo's Dad is currently undergoing chemo therapy for stage 4 lymphoma. All prayers for their family are a blessing.
Our home churches in the states, Bethlehem UMC in MS. and St.John Lutheran in TX. have both had great cause for extra prayers for their pastors' families this month. First we heard that Pastor Schulte's wife in TX. had suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. Praise God it was mild and after having stints put in place she was quickly back home and doing well. Next we learned that Bro. Jeff's daughter in MS. was in a car accident and hospitalized with multiple broken bones requiring surgeries. Again we praise our Lord that no one was critically injured to the point of threatening life. We know that both families have a wonderful faith and trust in God and multitudes praying with and for them.
We appreciate all of you that take the time and make the effort to pray for not only our family and needs, but also those we share with you.
On a personal note, I am feeling more and more that God wants to use me and some of my life experiences to help others understand the unmatched difference that knowing Him and having a personal relationship with Him makes in this life. I'm humbled and touched that I might be of service in such a way, yet I struggle with just what and how to share with whom. Yes, I know that is likely a common thread among Christians. I'm thankful to feel I may be in that fold. My additional struggle here is that most we relate to here on a daily basis are not exactly fluent in English - and I am most certainly not fluent in Japanese! So in general we communicate pretty well, but in matters of the heart and Spirit it's much more of a challenge to know how to share what I want to and have them understand what I think I'm saying...!
Marriage and family relationships in general in the Japanese culture are so very different than what I personally know. I'm not implying that it's all bad - just very different. We so often are told, " I wish my (wife, husband, child, mother, father...) and I had the closeness we see in your family." Yet when we encourage them to reach out and take the first step in implementing that closeness they freeze. There are many questions, we do our best to answer in all honesty and in way they can relate to. Most often it's like that old saying 'three steps forward, two steps backward'. So with that whiff of progress we press on.
I suppose I shared all that just to thank you and ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers in our life here, that we will continue to listen and hear how God is leading us in all we do.
May His grace and mercy be great in your lives!