Feliz Año Nuevo!!!!
For me, it’s always the dreaded blog post, the dreaded Facebook post, the dreaded Instagram post, the dreaded whatever-type-of-social media-post, that being, and decidedly titled,
“Summarizing 365 days of my life in two (maybe three) short sentences (or paragraphs if I’m feeling nostalgic)”
I’ve always had a hard time encapsulating a year as we move into the next one.
I’ve always had a hard time summarizing 365 days of living, experiencing, breathing, eating, laughing, crying, yelling, singing, whispering, dreaming, feeling, listening, hearing, learning, unlearning, failing, triumphing, growing, stretching, opening, closing, creating, taking, breaking, and all that is this….life. Living.
I can’t summarize it. I can’t encapsulate it, properly, that is.
Or maybe, I just don’t want to.
Maybe it’s my reluctance to let go of the year and all that has happened (the joys and sorrows) and embrace a new year and all that will happen. Maybe it’s growing a year older, now three years married, now 29, now not anymore in Minnesota, in the United States….change can be really hard for me.
But, like I mentioned in my previous post, I am learning to intentionally enter into and be apart of the changes and different seasons of life. And part of that process is, I think, not forgetting the past seasons, but learning and growing from them, carrying certain “experiences” over to the next season (or year) or choosing to leave them behind. And to do that, we must remember, we must reminisce, we must go into the hard places, the glory places, the sacred and holy places of life.
I think it’s okay to ask, “why’s”. And I think it’s okay to grieve that which is no more, that which will not enter into the new year or new season with us, even if we so badly want it to. Yet we can’t stop there, we can’t lose hope. We also need to enter the spaces of the past year that were holy and hard and remember….and recall, His faithfulness, His peace, His active love and sweet and gentle grace.
I suppose it’s a healing thing to do, that’s what people tell me at least, and I am finding that to be true.
So, I won’t let the new year, and all that has happened in the year we are leaving, hinder me from doing the hard work of being present, nor will I let it slip out of memory without recalling and remembering, without purposefully holding on and letting go. Nor will I let the year go without being grateful and giving thanks for another year, no matter how hard, how good, how lost, how grounding it was….I will choose to give thanks and I will choose joy and hope for the things to come.
So there, I did it. I wrote a “Farewell 2015, Hola 2016” post.
p.s. watch out, I did my summarizing in pictures…..
I can’t quite let go of Christmas yet.
I mean, every year when December and the Christmas season are coming to a close, we begrudgingly get back into the routines of daily life, but this year, knowing that this is probably our last white, Minnesotan Christmas for a while, I am even more reluctant to dismantle the tree, the greens, the hanging cinnamon stars, and the cozy, stringed lights.
I am even more reluctant to end the daily gatherings at my parent’s or siblings’ homes, sitting by the wood-burning stove, playing games, reading together, going on morning, winter walks or evening moonlit strolls.
I am reluctant to let this season end, literally and figuratively speaking.
I know it is a process, of letting go, of holding on, of saying goodbye, of saying hello, er…hola. But still….it’s hard. It is a PROCESS. Just like much of life; growing up, getting older, experiencing sorrows and joys and mountains and valleys and days of triumph and days that feel like a failure.
This process of life, of seasons…..it’s hard stuff. It really is, but to resist it, I think, would only make it worse, as hard as it is, I am learning to be fully aware and to be consciously and intentionally apart of it. To be awake to the changes and the feelings and emotions of it all, to not let it drown me, but be okay with feeling sad or feeling excited. To be okay with it being messy and not exactly what I thought.
But the hope of process for me is, we do not have to do it alone. We are all in process, in different seasons, in motion, in change, but we are not alone. I am so thankful for the community of support around us, for our friends and family who have known or know that seasons and different processes we are going through and offer us their space and time to process with them. We are so thankful!
I am so thankful for Christ and how he intentionally and purposefully chooses to travel with us through every season and process, daily.
Just today, as I was spending sometime alone, thinking on the past year and how some parts of it were so hard and ugly and thinking to myself, “what a waste that time was, I wish I could re-do or re-live those moments and do things differently” or, “I wish I never had to go through that season, that I could have erased that moment in my life”. Instantly after I thought that, I felt in my heart, God saying:
“It was not for nothing, it was not in vain, it was not lost. The things that you think are dead are breathing in life again. In silence, I was and am there. I am in the grief. I am in the seemingly wasted years, in the mistakes, in the ashes, in the pain, in the unnoticed, in the broken…look closer, look closer, I was there and am there. I am there. There is no “wasted” or “lost” in me. I am NOT a passive Father”
And it is so true. He isn’t passive, in the waiting, in the silence, in the proceses, in the different seasons, he is not passive, he is right with us, walking with us. Oh, that my eyes would be open to Him. OH, that even when I don’t see or feel, that I would choose to believe. Oh that I would choose to believe!
So, in this process of “lasts” and in this season of change and bittersweetness, I am going to try to have my eyes wide open to each moment, to intentionally be apart of the process and the season, whatever one it may be, I want to be apart of it, not wishing it were over, or trying to blur the days away, but through the mountain highs or valley lows, singing out to remind my soul, that I am not alone and I am not alone.
So maybe we’ll keep the tree up just a little bit longer and we will linger just a little while longer in the moments we are together, and be thankful for this season and the next.
And there it was, smack dab in the middle of the page, the words calling my skimming eyes to a halt. I couldn’t move on, yet I couldn’t look. I was ashamed to read them, knowing their difficulty in my life, yet, there they were, written as a reminder just for me, and maybe, you too….
“Let yourself be loved”
Is that it? These were the words that brought my skimming, reading, rhythmic-pattern to a halt.
It sounds so easy, yet audacious to one who has struggled to love herself.
But yet, I didn’t find the words as cruel or cliche as they could have been in the past. This time they seemed almost hopeful; prepared with grace and delivered delicately, not to point out what I couldn’t do-but rather, what I can do.
“Your greatest gift is not your gifts, but your surrendered yes to be a space for God.”
A space. Making room, making time, creating a space to receive his love, to actually let myself be loved.
How do I miss it so often, so busy and worried about doing this or bringing that….yet, in the quiet, in the chaos, he whispers:
“come, make space, and receive”
And in that space he fills me, fills the hollow places in me, the starving, fearful places in me.
And what I’ve found is that, when I let myself be loved, when I create a space for Christ to come-he asks me to carry that space with me-wherever I go. To offer that space to others. To carry the space for him to enter in and conceive grace and hope and love.
It is one thing to create space, but another to stay in the space.
But what a gift it really is to not only offer space, but stay in that space. I have never felt more loved and valued then when, in those moments, dear souls have offered me the space to talk, to cry, to vent, and to rejoice. And when I see through my tears or my anger that they have not left, but rather stayed….nothing speaks more volumes than that.
“The being with is always the gift, not merely the doing for”
And how true. When we choose to offer to others the space that Christ offers us daily, and stay in that space, we find it becomes a sanctuary, a safe place to hear the brokenness behind the anger, the truth behind the facades and fake smiles, and the false fears stop, as we keep in space for Christ to grow us and conceive grace and understanding in us, in the situation.
And how beautiful and fitting that it starts with empty hands, no performance or gift, just a beckon and a call to make space and receive.
“This is the chronology of grace, the chronology of Christmas: before we’re called to give, we’re called to receive”
May we truly respond his call to come and receive and may we carry that space with us this Advent, this Christmas.
Peace and joy,
*all quotes from Ann Voskamp
We wanted to give a quick update:
While we were still in the process of creating this “challenge” we had two generous friends donate in the Antisana category. We are so thankful!
That just leaves us with 8 supporters left to give in the Antisana category! Woohoo!
Click here! to support us today!
Remember, you can give either 100 dollars a month for a commitment of two years OR a one time gift of $2,400. Of course, you can give whatever you feel compelled or called to give as well.
Thank you so much for your support and hope!
So here it is guys! The first mountain! If any of you feel called to give $100 dollars a month for a commitment of two years OR a one-time gift of $2,400, please click the link below which will take you directly to our fundraising website where you can commit to either a monthly gift or a one-time gift. We are praying for 10 supporters who feel called to give $100 dollars a month!
As supporters commit, each week we will be sending out updates and you will (hopefully/prayerfully) start to see the white “$100” dollar dots on the mountain start to be filled which signifies a supporter committing to that amount.
Thank you so much! We are so excited to see how God is going to move and how we are going to scale this mountain together! 🙂
Also, once you decide if you want to give monthly or a one-time gift on our fundraising website from the link above, there will be an opportunity to write a “Giving Note”, if you want, ( you do not have to) you can mention what mountain you are “climbing” with us, i.e. : Antisana.
Peace and Blessings.
We are SO excited to be sharing with you guys the…….
What is The Four Peaks Challenge?
The four mountains/peaks represent the four tallest mountains in Ecuador, which are: Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, Cayambe, and Antisana.
Our hope and goal with The Four Peaks Challenge is really to make very clear our budget need, how we can get there, and the best ways to do that.
We’ve had a lot of people confused about how much support we need to raise and if we do indeed need to raise it all ourselves…..so, we decided to put forth The Four Peaks Challenge; a simple, clear, easy, yet VERY important way of partnering alongside us financially.
How it works?
We will start with the smallest “peak” (10 supporters giving 100 dollars a month for two years) and work our way to the tallest “peak” (90 supporters giving 10 dollars a month for two years).
We wanted to give our supporters different ways they can support us financially, thus the different mountains with different amounts.
Of course we do NOT want to limit people and what they feel called to give, but since so many people have asked us for the best ways they can partner with us financially and how to go about doing that, well, here it is!
Some people have asked if they can just give a one time donation, of course you can!
If you do wish to give a one time gift in one of the mountain categories, we have the totals below.
Remember: it is MONTHLY for a TWO-YEAR commitment. OR you can give a one-time gift equal to that amount:
One person giving $100/month for two years: $2,400
One person giving $50/month for two years: $1,200
One person giving $25/month for two years: $600
One person giving $10/month for two years: $240
Each week we will be sending out an update on our current mountain and how far away we are from the peak (or, how many more supporters we still need to reach our goal for that category). Once we reach the peak, we start on the next mountain! And by the time we’ve reached them all, we will have raised the amount of money needed to pack our bags and leave the United States and head to Ecuador to start ministry and life over there! So exciting!
We will also start sending out our monthly newsletter, which will also have information and updates about The Four Peaks Challenge.
So here we go!
Our total thus far that we need to fundraise is: $117, 600.
Starting next Monday we will begin with mount Antisana (10 supporters giving 100 dollars a month for two years). We are hoping within three weeks time we will be able to “scale” the mountain and reach the peak/goal of having 10 supporters giving 100 dollars a month for two years and then we will start the next mountain!
So please join us as we begin The Four Peaks Challenge! starting this coming Monday!
See ya at the top!
It has been a couple weeks now since our dear, dear friends from France, the Weilers, left.
Yet, I am still mentally digesting all I learned from their time here with us.
Our time together reminded me, once again, just HOW valuable and needed is diversity in the body of Christ.
Even though the Weilers were only here for less than three weeks, they taught me so much through their culture and personality, and beautifully reflected a life of peace and rest.
Although we invited them into our home, they invited us into their daily routines and ways of life: each morning we would prepare a simple breakfast, carry it outside and slowly eat and drink tea while enjoying the morning sunlight, each other’s company, and the freshness of the morning. After lunch we would always sit down either on the earth outside or on the carpet inside and take tea and dark chocolate. It was not rushed or fancy or something that it was not….but simple, together, and peaceful.
But truly, my favorite moment was when Mrs. Weiler (Claire), my husband, and I sat down one evening while at a friend’s cabin up North and talked in the fading light about meditation. It was so beautiful and such an eye-opening experience.
Claire has been a yoga instructor for more than 20-plus years and practices the art of meditation. And you can sense, when you are around her, that she is a women of peace and rest.
While talking she explained to us how she views meditation. And to be honest, I had not thought much about meditation, I always either pushed it aside as “too New Age” or didn’t think it would ever benefit or enrich my life. But Claire said something that completely changed my view on meditation. She explained that meditation, truly, at its core is “receiving”. That we must, “receive first, before anything else; before words, before pleas, before phrases…we must first quiet our wandering minds and receive. Just receive”.
How I long to just quiet myself, my crazy, scattered thoughts and focus on just receiving from Jesus. Sitting first and before even lifting up a Psalm or a prayer or a thanks, to first just receive. What do YOU want to say to me, Abba, that I don’t hear from all my wondering and thinking? What do you want to calm in my anxious heart? What do you want me to notice? What part of your creation are you wooing me with….the air, the sun, the smells, etc.? What area in my life do you want to cover with your peace? What truths have I been forgetting about You, about me? Can I hear your song over me?
And like Claire said, it is a hard practice to do at first because honestly, our lives are a lot more about “doing” then “receiving”. But I think it is a such a beautiful life practice that can bring such sweet connection to and peace from the Father. To sit and to receive. How beautiful!
It is a practice I am trying to learn; a habit I am trying to start, because now, I view meditation as a beautiful part of a culture, religion, and the scriptures that the Father can use (and has been using since looong ago) to bring peace, rest, and restoration. It is one beautiful way, out of many, that we can practice abiding and resting; that we can practice listening and hearing the Father’s heart for us. And it has been a great connecting point and has given space and opportunity for listening, sharing, and growing with others.
I am so thankful for my dear French friends and for all they have taught me and for how God does not shrink from culture but uses culture and traditions for a life of wholeness in Him.
It’s a rainy Thursday, and we’re enjoying some much needed peace and quiet, indoors.
We are in a time of limbo: knowing we will be leaving to Ecuador, but not quite packing our belongings into plastic bins and saying our goodbyes.
Lately life has been like a gusty autumn wind, blowing this way and that, up and down, picking up leaves here and tossing them over there. For a while, we were letting it take us where and when it wanted. There was no routine, no time for daily habits, no time for rest, and no time for peace.
But (now), we are learning to be thankful for that which causes us to grow, and maybe, even before being thankful, we are beginning to notice that which gives us opportunity for growth (which I think is harder than being thankful for it), because in the midsts, it has slowly taught as (and we are still learning) to hold tight to moments of reprieve; to hold tight to those daily rituals/habits/routines that bring life and peace and self-care and beauty and rest.
We’re finding out that life needs liturgy.
Something that gives intentional form, to the rhythms of life.
So what does a life of liturgy look like?
We’re still finding out, creating, engaging, encountering, listening, and discovering. And I think that is how it will be because life is fluid….there will always be change, there will always be chaos and busyness…but God, in His great faithfulness and goodness as a Father, will always give us opportunities and moments (even amidst the chaos) of:
Maybe the liturgy of our lives right now looks like folding laundry every Monday, still warm and smelling of lavender. Maybe it is the country drive, to and from my parent’s house, soaking in the beauty of corn fields and blue skies. Maybe it is welcoming the Sabbath every Friday night by bread, grape juice, and prayer. Maybe it is the breaking of bread every Saturday with family, maybe a weekly baking, daily walks, morning quite, and listening.
So may we continue to fight for the grounds of peace we now stand on. May we hold tight to routines that bring life and rest. May we actively seek peace and purpose in the fluidness and rhythms of life. And may we purposefully look for or step back and recognize the liturgy in life and give thanks to the good Father who is in the routines and detours of life.
Hello and happy beautiful Friday!
I am sitting down with my husband to a cup of tea and toast. And the music of Gungor is a lovely undertone to the moment.
And as we are sitting here, I am thinking of you and the best way to explain “Why Ecuador?” “Why Merge?” Why now?”, etc. And it brought a memory to mind of when I was being interviewed at a radio station and I clenched so tightly to the chair I was sitting on while being interviewed that my hands turned white and not even the strongest wind could have torn me from that chair. I also remember that my throat all of a sudden became so dry that I was having a hard time talking, even opening my mouth. So embarrassing!
Formal interviews are obviously not my thing. I would much rather talk with you like my husband and I are now, over a cup of tea (or coffee), in our home, with some music, the windows open….so let’s just go with that:
Where will you be living/doing ministry?
When will you be leaving?
How long will you be gone for?
Who is involved?
We are. You are. The Evangelical Covenant Church of Ecuador. Merge Ministries.
Who is impacted: We are. You are. Pastors, youth pastors/groups, local churches, and communities. Ministries, families, schools, and individuals as we partner with many different people in many different ways and as God uses each of us to bring His Kingdom here on earth; how He calls each of us to partner in what He is already doing. It is through God in partnership, community, and commitment that we can do what we do.
Why Merge Ministries?
It’s so beautiful and humbling to see how God works; even in the midsts of confusion and uncertainty, God is faithful. And how beautiful to look back and see where he has been leading and walking beside us and to know that He is still leading and walking alongside of us as we continue on with his call on our lives to ministry in Ecuador. Thank YOU, for being apart of this journey!
(being commissioned as short-term missionaries at the Evangelical Covenant Church annual meeting)