My Heart


Reality. There are moments when it hits you like a ton of bricks. A few months ago, I had one of those moments in the realm of parenting. Over the past two years, I thought I was a pretty good mom. I of course understood that I had much to learn and that over the coming years there would be many trials. But I thought I was doing an alright job—up until the last few months that is.

You see, up until this point, I haven’t had to do much in the way of discipline. We have been blessed with an amazingly sweet and extremely cute (not that we’re biased or anything!) little girl. These days, however, I find myself wondering who replaced that joyful, cuddly little sweetheart with the little stinker who likes to tell Mommy, “NO!” and who occasionally (dare I admit it?!) tries to hit Mommy. Now don’t get me wrong, that sweet, cute, cuddly little rascal isn’t a terror, but, like all kids, she has her moments. And, to be honest, for all of the books I’ve read, people with whom I’ve talked, and experience I’ve had teaching and babysitting, I often find myself wrestling with various methods of discipline….how will it affect each child and what will the effect of that type of discipline with that particular child be? Is it the right, the best, the most effective means of training and teaching?

The questions, and they’re heavy ones, run through my mind and my heart–sometimes to the point where it’s overwhelming and I wonder if my children will ever “turn out right” … without having to carry the crushing burden of my mistakes. It’s in those moments (and in fact, every moment I am a mom), that I have to let go. All I can do is lay those worries, those fears, those dreams I have for my children at the foot of the cross, trusting that the God of the Universe and the Lover of my soul, cares far more for my children than I do (though quite impossible for me to comprehend). And HE has a plan for their future. A plan to prosper them and not to harm them, to give them hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). Even when I fail (though no excuse to not try), in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him (Ro. 8:28).

Just a few nights ago, I cried out to the Lord and surrendered my own inadequacies and uncertainties. What encouragement He brought to my heart through the words of a mommy blogger I like to read! Here’s the link to those words. “Proclaiming Our Purpose in Parenting” by Megan at SortaCrunchy. What release!

I hope you’ll visit her site and be encouraged as I was.

I knew it had been a while since I last wrote, but I guess I didn’t realize quite how long it had been until today. Over two months…almost three! It’s hard to believe that we have now been home almost as long as we were in the jungle. We miss it. We miss it a lot. Don’t get me wrong…there are so many things that we LOVE about being home in the States, but what many people don’t understand is that there are so many things that we LOVE about home in the jungle. Maybe my posts never conveyed that. I’ve had quite a few people tell me that they couldn’t believe how honest I was in my posts or that I was “allowed” to say what I said. … almost as if I shouldn’t have been writing what I was or sharing how I did.

That discouraged me.

Isn’t life about being real? We spend so much energy wearing masks and sugar coating things. But how can we grow and learn from each other and really share the journey if we’re not real?

I’ve had other people that read of my struggles and inferred that I hated our time in the jungle. I am so, so sorry if that is what came across. There are so many things I loved about being in the jungle. The idea that I hated our time in the jungle couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, there were many trying situations, and it certainly was an adjustment, but I believe with all of my heart that God had us there for a reason. I would never trade all that He taught us and the ways He grew us and our time there for anything in the world!

Though many might not agree with how I shared, and though that disapproval does discourage me, I don’t–and wouldn’t–take back what I wrote. Writing for me is a way of processing. It’s a way of making sense of what God is doing and teaching me. It’s a way of finding myself and being “real,” especially when it might be hard to be that real in person. And it’s a way of recording the little (and BIG) details of my Abba’s incredible faithfulness.

So I write…and I try not to hold back…because I want you to know that life is hard and struggles are present, but our God is good! And that makes it all worth it. Though the struggle may be overwhelming at times and the circumstances dark, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is there with me. He has allowed it for a reason, and He is using it for my good. For ‘if there was a better, easier, or faster way to teach me what He is trying to teach me, He would do that’ (paraphrase from Chip Ingram’s podcast God as He Longs for You to See Him)!

So I write…and I will continue to write.

Stay tuned for updates about the past 2.5 months … and the coming addition! Baby #2 is due soon…very, very soon! 🙂

It has nearly been a week since the Internet connection was re-established, and we are still trying to get everything in order from the past month and a half! We have been in contact with Christian Light Foundation and know that some of you have given toward our financial support. However, we won’t know who you are until a report is given to us at the end of October. Please forgive us for not being able to thank you personally until then. We are incredibly grateful for your generous gifts. We wouldn’t be able to be serving here without your support. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Please do pray with us that the support check will be sent from CLF quickly. We have many bills that need to be paid from the last month, including our travel tickets, etc., not to mention the October ones that are due!

Though we have not made any decisions on future plans, we have decided that we will return home to have the baby. Our original ticket dates were for December 15, as that is the latest I am allowed to travel during the pregnancy. However, we are prayerfully considering returning home early. Because of my blood type, there is some blood work and shots that I need to have completed by my 28th week. The doctors have stressed how important this medical attention is, and we were really hoping that we could have this done in Esmerelda.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a possibility, which leaves us with two options: getting this work done in PA or in the States. If we were to go to PA for this, we would need to spend about 3 weeks there. This would result in the cost of travel to and from PA AND a return trip to PA when we leave a few weeks later (which is very costly) and accommodations while we’re there. On the other hand, if we have this work done in the States, we would leave the country a few weeks prior to our planned departure date. Either way, our ministry would be cut short by about 3-4 weeks. Right now it seems to us that it would be more cost effective and easier with travel to head home early and have the medical work done in the States. Do pray that we will make the right decisions and that all of the details will be worked out.

On a similar note, we did find out that in the past month that we’ve been without communication, our insurance was dropped. We are, of course, very concerned about this, especially with a baby due in February. We are looking into COBRA, but with all of this happening while we were without communication, we don’t have a lot of time to figure this out….not to mention the difficulty of trying to do all of this from a remote village in the Amazon rainforest! We know that the Lord is in control, and He is the One who provides for us. I must admit, though, that there is that human side of me that worries and struggles with how we’ll make it when we return home! Please pray that we will trust the Lord and know His peace in the process, and please pray with us that He will provide! Like He has done so many times in the past, it is our prayer that He will once again show Himself faithful, that it might be a testimony to others that He is in control and He takes care of His children!

On a separate note, but still medically related, please pray for Isabella. She came down with a fever this afternoon. I’m sure it’s just something common going around, but this isn’t the most fun place to be while you’re sick! Please pray that her fever will come down and that God will heal her little body quickly.

Thank you for praying for us so faithfully. It is a joy to share this journey with you!

What a blessing communication is! Not only have we now been able to send and receive e-mail, but we can even audio and sometimes video chat with family! I can’t even tell you what a blessing it is to hear and see your faces! It really is amazing how far technology has come. When I think that I’m in the middle of an Indian village deep in the Amazon rainforest video chatting with my mom…wow, it boggles my mind!

I was just thinking today of how much I have to be grateful for. Sometimes in life, especially when our circumstances or relationships are difficult, it’s easy to forget the multitude of blessings in our lives. What we focus on will determine our attitudes. My grandpa used to always say, “Don’t doubt in the dark what God has revealed in the light,” and I think that’s true in a variety of ways. I guess that’s one of the reasons God teaches us through His Word to “give thanks in all circumstances.” Not just the easy times or when the sun is shining, but in the difficult blessings, too…in rainy season and heart-wrenching dilemmas…in all things. Sometimes—a lot of times—it’s hard. In fact, there may be moments when it’s the hardest thing you have to do, but we can because no matter what the circumstances, we serve a God who is Good. He doesn’t just act in a good way, but goodness is the very essence of His being. It is part of His character. He is faithful. He is Sovereign. He is Love. He is a God who is worthy of our praise and thankfulnesss.

I was reading in Philippians today:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—think about such things” (Philippians 4:4-8)

What are you feeding your mind with? What are you thinking about? Are you giving thanks in all circumstances? Those are questions I have to continually ask myself. Some days or weeks are harder than others, but “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” That’s just another one of the great things about God. When He calls us to do something, He is faithful to give us the strength, the stamina, whatever it is we need to do what He has called.

As I mentioned earlier, I have been thinking about the many things I have to be thankful for. Among the many, I was thinking of the little blessings in the past day or two:

  • An apple – Josh’s dad bought a few apples on his last trip to Esmerelda. Usually you can’t find them there, but he did and shared one with us. I can’t tell you how much I have missed the crunch and sweet juiciness of an apple!
  • A pineapple – Josh’s cousin Tanya brought us a pineapple from her garden!!! It is not quite ripe yet, so it is sitting on our table in the window ripening. Every time I look at it my mouth starts watering!
  • Josh’s Grandma and her lemonade – Just about every day we go to coffee at Josh’s grandparents house. I don’t drink much coffee, especially here because it’s so hot! There are many days when Josh’s Grandma has made me fresh lemonade right from the lemons on her trees! It certainly isn’t something she has to do, but what a blessing it is to me!
  • The timing of the internet being fixed – I have wanted the internet to work for some time now; we all have. However, when I knew it was a very real possibility this past week, I prayed so strongly that it would be fixed by the 1st. Oct. 1 was my grandpa’s 85th birthday. I wanted so badly to be able to get in contact with him and wish him a happy birthday—even if it was just through e-mail. On the 30th when it didn’t look like it would happen, I was disappointed, but just trusted that the Lord had a reason. What a sweet blessing that God answered my prayer so that I could wish Grandpa a happy birthday!
  • Aunt Faithie and Aunt Sharon – I have been so blessed to be able to get to know Josh’s aunts a little bit better. Having served here for so long without even a visit back to the States for supplies or rest, they still serve graciously and give generously. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve prepared and shared coffee cake or cookies or cake or bread or whatever they have! Not only that, but they’re fun to talk with and be around, too!

I could go on and on! Although as I read back over this list, I’m realizing that a lot of my gratefulness revolves around food! Ha! I wonder what that says about me!! 🙂

Seriously, though, I have a million little things to be thankful for, but I also have a million big things to be thankful for, and not all of them are obvious praises. In the book of James, we are admonished to, “Consider it pure joy … whenever [we] face trials of many kinds, because [we] know that the testing of [our] faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that [we] may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). God allows certain things into our lives for a purpose, even if they’re inconvenient or just down right unbearable!

Last week I was writing about just that in my journal. I thought I might share it at some point, and I guess now is the time. I do hesitate to share it only because I don’t have all of the answers or have things “figured out.” I am in process, and this is what was on my heart one day. So, take it for what it’s worth. I just pray that it will be an encouragement to you and another example of how we can give thanks in all circumstances:

I have spent the past month feeling guilty that maybe this – living and serving here in the jungle – isn’t where I feel called. There are definitely things I don’t like about being here—things that aren’t convenient like they are in the States or quite as comfortable….and I’ve thought that because of those things, I’ve made up my mind that this isn’t where I belong. I’m the type of person that wants to prove I can do it, and part of me feared that by saying that I don’t feel called here, I was actually saying that I really couldn’t cut it…which in turn makes me want to dig in my heels and grin and bear it….trying to make the best of it. I do think that sometimes that is exactly what we need to do—make the best of it. Give thanks in all circumstances. Life and circumstances aren’t always easy, but that doesn’t mean we give up. Those thoughts, along with my stubborn will, continued to swirl around in the sea of emotions I have been feeling. But over the past few days, as I have been seeking the Lord, He has been making the passions He has placed on my heart clearer to me…(notice that I didn’t say “clear” but rather “clearer,” a big difference J ), and today I felt a tremendous sense of freedom that it’s okay if this is not where I feel called to serve, and it doesn’t mean that I just “couldn’t cut it.” On top of that, I don’t need to fear and fret about Josh. I am trusting him to the Lord. I am of course praying that the Lord will direct both of our hearts and steps and that we will be in unity of heart, mind, and purpose, but I don’t need to worry, manipulate, or continue to ask “where he’s at in his thinking.” He is in the Lord’s hands, and I trust that the Lord will lead us, in His timing, to the place He desires us to be.

I don’t need to worry about where we will be in the States, or what we’ll be doing. God already knows those details. As we trust in the Lord with ALL of our heart and lean not on our own understanding, He WILL direct our steps! What freedom there is in that!

In the meantime, I spent many days wondering deep down that if this isn’t where I feel called, why in the world should I spend any more time here! However, I know that God has led us here for this time and at this time for a purpose. Already He has been teaching me, and I so desire to glean and learn all that He is trying to show me. I am far from grasping it, but I am learning about being a servant. I am learning about giving thanks in all circumstances. I am being reminded about hard work and flexibility. I have had time to think and read and reprioritize. I’ve had time to think about what and who is important to me, and I am getting to know myself better. God is revealing to me some of the passions He has put on my heart and some of the shortcomings I desperately need to work on. So, although it would be much for convenient and comfortable to go home, God is teaching me something while we’re here, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Trust Him and trust His character. Seek to learn and grow in the midst of the trial, and don’t stop giving thanks. We have much to be thankful for!

Did any of you know that as a little girl I used to get incredibly homesick? Well, it’s true. I couldn’t even spend the night at my best friend’s house across the street without going home in the middle of the night! I even remember a time when I was about 11 or 12 and spending the night at a friend’s house that I called my mom in the middle of the night, woke her up, and asked her to drive all the way over to get me!

Honestly, I don’t know why I am admitting this to a countless number of readers on the internet, where my cowardice will forever be recorded, but I am! Maybe, though, it’s to show that God is greater than our fears. I remember as I got older, my mom and my dad finally got to the point where they said I needed to stick it out. They wouldn’t come get me. Oh I’m sure that if it was bad enough, they would have, but I always felt terrible for waking them up in the night, and it was embarrassing after all. I remember staying at a friend’s house after that, and in order to fall asleep, I had to just keep praying and reading God’s Word. It was the only thing that would bring me comfort and calm. I remember how relieved I felt as I drifted off to sleep…and how excited I felt in the morning when I woke up….I made it through a whole night at a friend’s house! There were times after that when I would become homesick, but if I’d wake up in the night, I’d pull out my Bible and cling to God’s Word. He was always there.

I’m sure I’ll have many nights like that during our time in the jungle. Even tonight as we prepare to depart Caracas in the morning and travel one step closer to the jungle, I can feel that homesickness creeping in. But for all of the things I think about and worry about and fear, I must trust that God is greater than ALL of those things, and He is a God we can trust! Even as my emotions run deep, I’m reminded of a verse a teacher gave me in high school: “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). (Thank you, Mrs. Kurtz!)

Do pray for us as we travel tomorrow. We will leave for the airport around 7 am and our plane for PA departs around 10:30 am. We will be in PA for a day or maybe a few more than that. It just depends on when we can get a plane into Esmerelda. Thank you all for praying about the parts needed to fix the damage done by the lightning on the internet in the jungle. We think Josh’s dad was able to purchase all of the parts that we need. Now, please pray that these parts will indeed work as needed so that we can have internet from the village. We will try to update you about our trip to PA tomorrow evening, although we are not completely certain that we will have internet access in PA either. If you don’t hear anything from us over the next few days, just keep praying! …especially pray that we can get the internet going again in Cosh. Yes, I know I just said that, but remember the whole deal about me being homesick? Well, I think the internet can be another help with that! 🙂

On a happier note, I had the pleasure of eating Cocosettes and Tostòn…el delicioso sabor del Platano…for the first time today….ohhh, and Maria cookies, too! Yum, yum! We also had real Venezuelan arepas today, too, but to be completely honest, for all that Josh hyped them up to be, I was a little disappointed. I think he and Keila definitely make them the best! Josh assures me, however, that my first Venezuelan arepa experience was like eating at a bad restaurant in the States, and he’ll prove himself right in the next day or two. I hope he’s right because a good arepa sounds like a necessary treat!

ooohhhh AND…Isabella is finally really starting to sound out words! Today she surprised us with “apple” (which actually sounded more like AAAAAAHHHHHHHH — with a HUGE open mouth — ppppppppppp — with pursed lips), “amen” (AAAAAAAAHHHHHHmmmmmmm), and “balloon” (bbbbbAAAAHHHHHooooo0). She’s been saying “hot” (which now means, hot, cold, warm, rough, or anything that feels a little different to her) and “hi” (which sounds more like hhhhhhhh). Oh, that little munchkin! She sure is our joy, and we praise the Lord for her!

Thank you all for praying for us…and for taking the time to read this lengthy blog. Being concise has never really been one of my strong suits! I’ll write more when I’m able to…hopefully that will be tomorrow from PA!

ps…We haven’t forgotten about the pictures! We’re just still waiting for a cord to download the pics onto our computer. Pray we can find it soon! I’m excited to show you our journey!

e. e. cummings once said, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.”

For the past few days, I have been thinking about this blog and what shape it will take. Of course the main purpose is to keep you all updated on our journey…for you to share in it and for you to be able to pray for us. But there has been a part of me that has been reluctant to write my heart. What will people think if they know I’m scared? Or what if some perceptive person can read through my words and discern my insecurity…or even worse, what if it doesn’t take a perceptive person and my insecurities and fears are just that obvious?! Ah, yes, you can probably already determine that I am an over-thinker and a bit of a worrier. I fear the opinion of others…but, by God’s grace, I’m working on that…actually He’s working on me with that–and has been for years. Praise God that He is the One who has begun the work in me and “the One who calls is faithful, and He will do it!”

So, although I’ve probably wondered far too much about this blog and who is reading it and what those people might think, I’ve decided that I’d rather be real and risk reproach or condemnation than be fake and have everyone like me. Perhaps the anonymity of the reader gives me a bit more boldness, but isn’t that what we all really want with others, just to be real…to be transparent? …to take off the masks and break down the walls and just be who we were created to be. I think that’s what sharing the journey is all about.

So I invite you: read on at your own risk. There will be times when I’m excited and times when I’m discouraged; times of eloquence and times of, well, whatever the opposite of eloquence is! I might bore you some days and inspire you on others. I might be too emotional in some posts and a little stale in others, but it is my goal to be me–not so you’ll like me and not even because of me! It is my deepest desire that in all that we say and do, Christ might be glorified. Life isn’t a fairy tale, and it certainly isn’t Hollywood. Sometimes it’s struggle and wrestling, warts and bruises…and if I can share our mountaintops with you, as well as our valleys, I pray that you will see how awesome and faithful our God is in each of those moments and every experience. He is faithful. He is good. He never changes. I really do want you to share this journey with us, and the only way I think that is really possible is through transparency. “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us!” (2 Cor. 4:7) I pray that through this all, He receives glory.

Join us on the journey.