Today my sister and mom and I went out to an auction of a longstanding family who has lived on the prairie for many years. This was my sister's and my first auction and we had no idea what to expect. We arrived to years of household goods out in boxes on tables and throughout the yards as well as farm equipment around the edges and in the barns. We knew this was serious business when we pulled in and many trucks with large trailers behind were parked all over the field and roadside! We spent the first 45 minutes looking through the boxes of stuff. We found a few goodies we noted to watch to bid on later. The auctioneers went up and down the rows of tables auctioning off boxes. When no one bid on 1-2 boxes they kept pushing them together until they sometimes had an entire table's worth of stuff up for bid. We bought 2 tables worth of stuff this way. Each cost $1. Each time we wanted 1 thing from 1 box...We found a couple fun things in the other boxes though. I found some neat old magazines and Reader's Digest books I'm going to use for homeschool. My sister found a bunch of National Geographic magazines she wants to display. My mom found a really cool carved nativity and then larger set of 3 wise men. One of the family friends thought they may have come back from one of their Holy Land trips. Either way they are really interesting! She also found a cool German Christmas pyramid-those things that have wooden carvings on a spinning tray with fan blades all around the top. When you light the candles along the outside edge the heat pushes the fan blades to spin the carvings. That was one of the buy the whole table things. This family has made a very big impression on many people over the years and will be missed on the prairie! My sister and mom and I had a really fun time together and have some treasures to remember today, and this family, by. We came home and hunted through all the little things in the many boxes we brought home. I'm having a great time with my family!
We picked Ty up from the airport the other night at midnight. The kids were so excited-even if they didn't want to walk in. I'm sure I looked hilarious carrying E in a makeshift sling I fashioned from the blanket I'd grabbed while pushing J in our umbrella stroller. Anyway, he got in and we made it home to do laundry and pack his stuff for our next trip. We got a full 4 hours of sleep before heading back to the airport at 6:15 the next morning. 2 flights and a 2 hour car ride later we were at my parents. Ty has been amazing-keeping himself awake, helping with the kids, processing Hungary and sharing with us. We are so glad to have him home. I am so glad to have him home!
And despite all the busyness of constant travel, jet lag and sheer exhaustion, the loud chaos of 5 young cousins and living out of a suitcase once more, we can relax.
And the view from the backyard is awesome! It's my beloved mountains and a clear evening with dusk falling. The wind has quit through the prairie and you can hear the stillness.
And my heart is still too. While we have much to do on this trip as we continue to share about what God is doing around the world through the arts, for now I am still. We are in peaceful and beautiful creation, with family whom I have greatly missed. Ty is home. The kids are reacquainting with their cousins. And my heart is reconnecting with our great and very gracious God!
So while tomorrow logistics need to be taken care of for the upcoming weeks, and a major plumbing project will commence, for tonight my heart is still. The last few months God has used Exodus 14:14 mightily in our lives-"The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still." With the constant motion we've been in since May it was a good reminder tonight to be still before the Lord, the Holy One!
So last week I was a "cabin mom" at a kids camp for several days. J and I went and when I signed up for it in the spring it seemed like a good idea. It would get us out for a bit while Ty was on outreach oversees and E would go to a friend's house and swim and me and J could go to camp again. Then last week arrived and I realized I was exhausted! I had been on the road non-stop for 6+ weeks and for the last 2 of those had been solo in parenting my own kids. How was I going to have any energy to not just parent other children, but actually have fun and help them know God better? God is faithful though and gave me a small cabin with delightful girls who got along beautifully and were not whiny or very needy! We had a great time learning more about being God's creation and taking care of His creation. I think the girls (and all the campers) learned a lot, grew in their faith, and drank a gallon of pool water in all our swimming and being thrown repeatedly by the big guys!
Then came the fire ants...Some of you know that has been one of my anxious points about living in the south. I have learned to identify their hills and we take care of them on our property (where thankfully we have very few!) but have yet to experience what they are really like. J was bit by a handful when we were in FL and it wasn't too bad with a little baking soda paste at first and follow up with benadryl stick. But the last hour of camp I got my first introduction to fire ants! Our neighbor girl (whom I've written about on here before) is known for the fire ants finding her. We were cleaning up the camp grounds right before final assembly when I spotted a rather large hill. I was about 3 feet away and she was also about 3 feet away although she didn't see it and was being silly with her friends. I tried getting her attention to move farther away and she wasn't paying attention. Suddenly the girl behind her (even farther out) started to say "ow" and at that moment our neighbor realized what I was saying as they began biting her all over in her flip flops. She was bending over saying "ow" and trying to get them off and I was so busy trying to get them to move away from the hill I didn't realize until too late they had also swarmed me. I felt little stings all over my ankles (I had on tennis shoes) and knew we better move out or it was going to get worse. I pushed them away to the sidewalk and we sat on the stairs and I flung off my shoes and socks then instantly put benadryl itch stick on them. Thankfully I'm not allergic and it was a good bonding experience for me and the 2 girls from our church! They definitely aren't pleasant-like tiny bee stings when they happen. Then after the stinging is gone they itch like a mosquito bite. But they itch way more intensely and longer and when scratched sting again. I'm trying to leave them alone! I have about 10 bites around my ankles that I keep scratching in my sleep that won't go away but all in all it could have been much worse!
Despite the fire ants we had a really good time! I got to know some other adults from our church as well as some of the youth and children's interns better. I met a few more families as they dropped their kids off too. We got to sleep in old train cars converted to bunkhouses and didn't melt too much in the heat and humidity! I think I'll be back if they'll have me next year!
So we were in the midwest for nearly a month earlier this summer and while there, our family had the privilege of being the missionaries for a family camp which our sending church attends. We know lots of people who go to Red Rock Camp, but had never been. We were greatly looking forward to a week of camp as a family and time to hang out with people from our church as well as meeting new friends. All this was to be enjoyed while getting to share what God is doing all over the world for his glory! What could be better?? Well, the weather could have been a touch better, but otherwise it was an amazing week!
We were challenged by the Word, participated in wonderful worship times of singing and quiet and prayer and communion, laughed with the kids as they enjoyed the children's evangelist, made many crafts (which actually mostly survived the flight home!) and napped and ate and visited with many people. Some wonderful friends we knew when we lived back West now live in MN and they came for a few days with their boys who are either side of our son. The 3 amigos picked up like they'd never been apart (even though it's been 2 1/2 years). It was great fun seeing them laugh and be silly and remember all these stories considering how young they all are! We also got to hang out with some friends we've served at church with for many years. Some we've known since we were barely married and they were still in college. We celebrated 10 years of marriage at camp and we all have kids now.
We were able to share parts of our testimony to encourage others we just met. Sometimes it was encouraging others through amazing blessings God has poured out. Other times it was to encourage others through times of great trial that God has seen us through. I was actually surprised just how much he used some very painful and difficult times in our lives. We had the honor of praying for new friends on a journey much like ours over the past couple years. While praying for them one night during altar/ministry time, I was caught up with emotion for them in thinking through all the emotion of our journey. It was humbling to be able to use our story as testimony to God's goodness, faithfulness, grace and mercy with newfound friends! And of course, we shared about missions and what God is doing worldwide. We love what we do and love seeing God move and getting to take a front row seat many times to His power and might! We saw his movement in the lives of people changed throughout the week too and loved praying with/for people in the evenings! God even used us at the right time in the dinner line to connect a friend to a church needing a youth pastor-what a story!
All in all, we had an amazing time at Red Rock and hope to join everyone again in the future! Our son is emailing a friend from camp and we have many new fb friends! I can't wait until kids camp which is coming right up-it's promising to be just as great!
As I was taking down laundry from the screened in porch earlier I was transported back in time to a place across the ocean. Listening to the rain in the dusk while smelling the steamy hot humid smell took me back to Thailand where I spent the summer at age 16. We slept in these huts that had roofs and walls but openings between the roofs and walls so you could totally hear the rain. And rain it did! We were there in the rainy season. Not monsoon season so no flooding to our waists to walk through, just the rain every single day with no sight of the sun for weeks season. And there I learned that even in the shade it can be well over 100* The smell of rain that was fresh and yet hot and sticky at the same time as well as the feel of clothes that were always slightly damp even when dry. Closing my eyes out on the porch brought it all back. And it made me smile. That summer I certainly NEVER dreamed I'd end up back in missions, back in such heat and humidity. In fact, God specifically told me to go home during that trip. When I was begging him to call me to full-time lifelong missions he was firmly saying no-my work at home wasn't done.
At the time I totally didn't understand. I had vowed I'd NEVER be a missionary, in fact that I'd NEVER work at McDonald's either and yet God in his sense of humor provided a job at McDonalds to help cover the cost of my missions trip to Thailand. And yet, I had finally surrendered and was there, in missions, totally ready to give my life up for it and God didn't want me. At least, that's what I felt like. Six years later Ty and I were helping lead a missions trip to the Appalachian Mountains-where Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina come together. The beauty, the heat, the poverty, the red clay...all things I never imagined I'd see again. Then, 2 years later Ty and I were willing to go to Mexico for missions-we had said send us and we will go and God again said no, after we were walking down that path. God sure has a way of taking our crazy paths and making them make sense in His plan! Tonight I sat in the kitchen of a friend eating dinner talking about going to their mountain house which is only 45 minutes from where we took that missions trip-only a couple hours from here and where the kids and i were this last week. Here we are praying for Ty with one of our teams in Hungary on outreach. Here we are missionaries full time, living in the heat and humidity of the southern U.S. which at times feels very tropical. God is amazing and like he says in Proverbs 16:9, 19:21 and 20:24 what we plan and what he sets out may be two very different things! We are so thankful that God has laid out these steps at this time! And speaking of steps He's laid, out you can go here or here to read some of the steps Ty and the team in Hungary are taking. Those are 2 of his teammates who are blogging about it! I'll be updating more the next few days about where our journeys have taken us so far this summer!
God is good! I'm thankful for laundry tonight that brought so many memories that can point all glory to God and His plans!
P.S. Not even joking, as I was typing this post, a small cockroach fell from the ceiling near the light-which is one of the things that happened regularly on the porch at our hut in Thailand (except those were huge ones). Crazy!!!
Last night we went on a double date with Ty's brother. We had great conversation at dinner regarding the power of our thoughts. Then we went to see a movie. Whether it was due to our conversation or whether it was due to the content, I left Green Lantern thinking a lot more about the power of our thoughts.
There were a lot of true things in the movie regarding fear and the power of our will. Fear is something that has the power to paralyze us, to keep us from action. When a person uses fear it can be a mighty controlling force to silence others or to move them to action to serve that person. Often when people try to avoid fear it is out of the need to have no fear at all. We look at fear as a weakness as if we are only strong if we have no fear. In the movie, the hero is challenged not to be fearless (which isn't realistic he comes to learn) but rather to overcome his fear and use it to move him to new action, an overcoming action-this was defined as courage! I know this idea of fear all too well. For a lot of my life I let fear silence me. The last few months have been so freeing as I've learned how much fear is a tool that the enemy uses against believers. Fear is not of the Lord. Jesus said he had not given us a spirit of fear but of sonship-of new identity in his Father. As I've quit listening to those thoughts of worry and fear I have found a new freedom. It doesn't mean that circumstances have changed. Bad, scary things still can happen and often do in our world. However, I don't have to be paralyzed from living a life of joyful worship to a goo God just because I'm afraid of hurt and pain. The movie contrasted the power of fear with the power of will. I actually think that is pretty accurate to us as believers! If we are living our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit, according to the will of the Father, then His will absolutely helps us overcome fear.
Being missionaries we often get asked "aren't you afraid going to dangerous and sometimes hostile places?" We have heard the stories. We know people who have been personally affected by very painful things because they went. And yet, if we are living in the will of our Father God then the answer is "no!" We are not afraid. Furthermore we are not going to let fear of what might happen silence us from going out into all the world. Bad things may happen. We may be hurt in the process and yet there is such freedom in going out in the power of a will greater than our own! I am trying to let this also lead my daily actions in between trips. I want courage-overcoming fear of what others think of me-to lead my conversations. I want to be bold in declaring the hope and truth of Jesus and
What power are you allowing in your life that may be silencing you or moving you to action?
Carolyn & (sometimes) Ty